Bassnectar

On Friday, October 27, 2013 I was able to go see @Bassnectar in concert at Pershing in Lincoln.  Having enjoyed Bassnectar for awhile and hearing about his great live shows, it was exciting to see it come to my home town.  The show had some really unique things, and in total it was great. The sound was unbelievable.

Security

The security to the show was nearly as extensive as at an airport.  They required everyone to take everything out of pockets, have a pat down (not as invasive as an airport), and lift up your shirt to look at the waistband.  Despite this, they allowed sealed water bottles in (they took the caps at the door) and bags after looking in them as well.  My observation while waiting in line was this caused a lot of people to consume anything they were hoping to get into the show before going in.  This did cut down a lot on substance use inside the concert, but of course the concert still smelled like an EDM concert.

 

Koan Sound

Usually opening acts don’t get much attention, Koan Sounds was the opposite of that.  They got the crowd going and were a surprise for me.  Being from the UK, their music was a bit different and more like a club.  I am definitely going to check them out.

 

Bassnectar/The Sound

Bassnectar’s set was over 2 hours of constant music and dancing.  He had 1 giant screen behind him supported with 4 smaller pillar boards on the sides.  The video was very colorful and synced to songs. Some were random fractal designs, others were moving video or stylized bits from music videos.

 

The music was a great selection of new and old Bassnectar.  One of the things I like about Bassnectar’s music is it incorporates pieces from lots of styles of music, and this showed in what he played. It was similar to some of his recent mixtapes. It’s the Bassnectar we know and expect to hear.

The sound quality was unbelievably clear and dangerously loud.  It brought new meaning to “feel the music”.  I had read a little on the Meyer Sound system being used.  I thought some of it was hype, but the system lived up to its reputation.  Never before have I been to any concert that was as loud, but super clear, as this one was.  You could feel the music in your body way more than you typically would at a rock show. As a long time follower of Bassnectar on twitter, I knew that he recommended ear plugs; I was very glad I had my Etymotic Research ER20 in my pocket.  These are unique in that they evenly block volume in sound without distortion or changing pitch. They make it so you can talk to someone near you without yelling.  My guess is this was the loudest and most bass heavy concert that the old Pershing building had ever seen.

All photos below were taken with my Note 2.

 

Nexus 7 2013 and Chromecast Mini reviews

Nexus 7 2013

I have been a very happy original Nexus 7 owner since day one, but the tablet has gotten quite a bit slower as it ages.  It seems this is a problem with the I/O and android 4.0+. (4.3 is said to improve this, btw).  I decided to upgrade mainly because of the increased storage (upgrade from 16gb to 32gb) and better screen.  So far I am not disappointed at all.  Below are my quick thoughts. Great full length reviews are also online from The Verge, Anandtec, Engadget, Android Central, and others.

 

Pros

  • The screen is a game changer.  Colors are great, it’s bright, and the high resolution (Think “Retna”) looks fantastic.  It’s an improvement in everything.

  • Blazing fast. Everything is much faster. Even the processor itself is faster. I think the biggest difference is the faster storage.

  • The build quality seems to be a large improvement. Despite being plastic it really seems like a solid construction.  It also feels much thinner in the hand.

  • Standby battery life seems to be improved over 50% when on WiFi.  I no longer need to charge it nightly.
  • Notification LED is a nice touch.

 

The Questions

  • Why is the power adapter on the Nexus 7 2013 edition smaller at 1.35A vs the Nexus 7 2012 edition which was 2.0A?

 

Cons

  • Audio – The speakers are a bit of a disappointment.  While stereo is nice, I was really hoping for more volume. I like to listen to podcasts or stream radio stations while in the same room, and the volume is just not that loud.  The internal noise when headphones are plugged in is vastly improved as well.

  • Google needs to differentiate in the Play Store between the versions of Nexus 7.  Currently by default they are just listed as “Asus Nexus 7” and the last date they were used.  Google should at least change the icon of the new Nexus to reflect the one they are using on the box and in promos.  You can go in and rename devices, but users should not have to do this.

  • Touch on my tablet seems to be a bit off once in awhile.  I am going to have to investigate this further to see if its an app problem or maybe a hardware issue.

  • There seem to be some GPS issues with certain apps.  This looks to be more of a 4.3 problem than a hardware problem in the new tablet.  Over time apps should update and this will get fixed.

Chromecast

When this was announced it was a surprise for pretty much everyone.  At $35 this is pretty much a no-brainer.

I had been looking for a way to get music to my receiver in the living room but be able to control it from my tablet or phone. Ideally I wanted the music source to be from my Google Music account, since I have everything uploaded there.  Initially I thought this would be an app and I would plug in my tablet to act as the server, but control it from my phone.  Turns out the Chromecast has this feature and it works really well.  From my tablet I can power on the receiver (TV can remain off) and  start music playing, all from anywhere in the house.  It’s pretty slick. I have my Chromecast hooked up to my Yamaha receiver in the HDMI 2 position with AC power.

Chromecast

There are 2 methods of the Chromecast streaming content.

Mobile Device to Chromecast

Right now there are only a handful of apps that officially support this.  Youtube, Google Music, Google Movies, and Netflix.  It’s really easy to use; you start a video or song playing and then hit the Chromecast button, and within about a second it starts playing on your TV/Receiver.  What is actually happening here is the Chromecast is playing directly from the cloud, allowing you to use your device to do other things, like social media etc.  You can create queues, pause, next, etc from your mobile device.

 

Computer to Chromecast

Computer to Chromecast works a bit differently than Mobile to Chromecast.  Computer to Chromecast requires you to use the Chrome browser, and install the Chromecast plugin.  From there it allows you to share a tab to the Chromecast.  You can display the text of a web page or most video.  The computer is transcoding this information and then sending it to the Chromecast over wifi, so it does take some power on the computer side.  I tried this on my i7 920 desktop and things worked well.  I tried a few websites (Crackel, JaylenosGarage, Vimeo) and everything worked.  There is also a trick that you can open local media files in Chrome using CTRL + O and these cast too.  The MP4 files that were H.264 encoded played well.  I also tried some MKV files I had and the video in these played well, however the audio did not.  Hopefully this is something that is added in the future.

Pro’s

  • Low Price, Small Size.  At $35 this is a no-brainer, Since I ordered early I received 3 months of Netflix as well, which makes it even cheaper. It’s a small dongle that fits about anywhere.

  • Setup could not have been easier with the app on my tablet. My one tip is if you have a long complex wifi password, email it to yourself first, and make sure you copy to your clipboard before you start the setup on the phone/tablet.

  • To steal a famous quote, “It Just Works!” It just works, as Google said it would. It’s only likely to get better from here.

 

Cons

  • AC adapter. This is one of those styles of adapters that can cover up the plugin next to it. On the positive side, Google did include a nice piece of velcro to keep the extra cord nicely bundled.

  • Limited native app support right now, but this should get better since the API is open.

  • No support for Mobile Chrome to Chromecast. Hopefully this will be added soon. I have a feeling that it was due to most hardware not having the power needed to transcode video fast enough.

 

The future potential of the Chromecast is huge.  While it’s not a Roku or Apple TV replacement quite yet, it’s still very useful.  At the $35 price level, you can’t complain about much.  It makes getting Youtube and Google Music/Movie content to your TV/Receiver super easy.  Beyond that, being able to quickly move a chrome tab from your desktop to tv is easy too.

Wide Range Broadband Review

Please make sure to see my updates at the bottom of the page.

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I have talked with Lincolnites citywide who share similar frustrations with the ISP options in town.  The big guys tend to overpromise, underdeliver, have over utilization problems, and reliability issues.  For me, the last 6 months have been worse than average, with huge fluctuations in speed, especially during peak times.  I had techs out, replaced modems, talked with support and there just was not much that could be done.  On top of this, new fees and a fairly high bill have been enough for me to start looking at other options.

In Lincoln there are not a ton of options.  Lincoln has a fairly limited market.  We have one cable provider and one traditional POTS phone provider.  There are a few resellers but they mainly use the infrastructure of the first two, thanks FCC.  There have been other options, but they typically have not been able to offer the price/performance ratio I was looking for, especially delivering a faster upload speed.

The Solution

Wide Range Broadband (WRB) is a small, locally owned and operated ISP, wanting to give Lincolnites another option to get Internet, phone and TV service.  When I first ran across them in late 2012 they didn’t have service in my area, but this has recently changed as they expand to cover more of the city.  View a coverage map here. WRB is a point to point line of sight Wireless ISP (WISP).  They use a RF technology and mount an antenna on a high point of your home and then run CAT5 inside.  More on the install later.  They are using fiber for the backhaul between their current 5 towers in town.Their main provider is Level 3 who dumps to the internet in Dallas TX.  The transmissions from the antenna to the providers tower is encrypted using 128 bit AES, which is a great thing.

Rooftop AntennaThis is the rooftop antenna on my house.

The Install

The install at my house took about 1.5 hours on a weeknight.  It was refreshing to have an appointment time that was not a 4 hour window.  During the install, Aaron, the company owner,  installed an antenna on my rooftop.  They had a lots of options, and I chose to put it on the side of my chimney.  Another common install point was the PVC exhaust vents many roofs have.  This is a good choice if you can’t put holes into the structure. The install is similar to a satellite dish install, with the mount actually being from a satellite dish.  From there he ran a length of outdoor rated CAT5 wire down the eave of my house and inside, with the rest of the service wires.  The antenna and CAT5 blend in pretty well, I think.  You can see them if you’re looking for it, but if not it blends in pretty well. Inside there is a simple small POE injector that plugs into electricity and a patch cable to your router.

Performance

I will admit I was a little skeptical at first of a wireless point to point service.  I have two pretty heavy users (Gaming, Streaming, Online Backup and more) in the house, so low lag and performance is a must. Point to point systems of the past are associated with having problems when there is weather, and high ping times.  So far I have not found this to be the case.  I am on the top residential package (21×5) and am seeing download speeds between 18-20mb/s and uploads of between 5-7mb/s   Upload speeds to seem to vary some, but they don’t dip that low, and are still significantly faster than I was previously receiving with my old ISP. Higher speeds are being seen at non peak times. The speed test screenshots speak for themselves. There are no bandwidth caps with the service either.

Speedtest

Service is dependent on distance from the towers, and according to Google Maps I am about 2.5 miles from the tower.  My housemate reports his ping times when playing online games are about 1/2 or 1/3 less with the new service.  Ping times to Google during peak hours are less than 30ms.   Youtube and Netflix performance are a lot better; much less buffering and no throttling. So far we have not had any thunderstorms roll through to see how that affects the service.  WRB told me that rain or snow would not affect the service.  So far in the one storm we have had I didn’t notice any performance differences.

After having the service about a week, I can easily say it’s the best ISP experience I have had in Lincoln and the best value.  The top package is quoted as a (21×5) for $60 a month.  With my old ISP I was paying $65 for (15×1) and that was not being delivered, so this is a much better value. Other packages are available as well with various levels of speed and price. I also like supporting a local company.

WRB also offers a referral program.  If this post has made you interested in signing up please let them know LiquidRetro referred you.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them below or find me on Twitter at @Liquidretro and I will reply back.

UPDATE1: I just wanted to write a quick update on the performance in the crazy weather Lincoln has had in the past 2 days.  On Tuesday some very significant thunderstorms rolled through town.  These brought with them some intense hail, that did cause a problem with my service.  After talking with the ISP they acknowledged a bit of downtime due to the weather. The hail had struck some of their antennas.  This was unexpected and they were looking deeper into the cause of the problem.  Good news is the outage only lasted about 20 minutes.  During the rest of the rain in the later thunderstorm there were no problems.  Today Lincoln has received a at times heavy wintry mix of precipitation   I have not had any problems with reliability or speed.  Speeds are still nice and fast.

UPDATE2: As of October 2017 I no longer was a Widerrange customer. I had the opportunity to get Allo Fiber to the home which is the best thing to happen to the Lincoln ISP market. It’s a fantastic service with great customer support.

Since my Update 1 My service with Widerrange declined in speed, because unstable and customer support suffered greatly. Running a WISP takes knowledge of the wireless spectrum above general networking and it woudl appear the new owner is lacking in this. My service required resetting due to vulnerable firmware that was known to the ISP but instead of being proactive they were reactive when users called in about a problem.

At the current time I do not recommend Widerange if you have other options.  The product being delivered did not meet expectations nor did the customer service. Lincoln now has better options, and I would recommend using one of them if possible.

Greta’s Gourmet, Lincoln NE Review

It looks like I am turning into a food blogger. I enjoy trying lots of new places in town, so it’s fitting. I will need to remember the P&S camera since my cell phone photos are only so so.

Friday I packed my lunch and intended on eating it at work, but that all changed once I smelled coworkers warming up things in the microwave.  Browsing my stream on Google+ I noticed Brian’s postabout a great Friday burger deal from Greta’s Gourmet here in Lincoln.  Since this was fairly close to work I decided to give it a shot.I walked in and ordered the Greta Burger, which was the house ground beef patty with bleu cheese crumbles mixed in with the meat, seasoned with KC Steak seasoning.  This was served on a toasted gourmet bun with tomato, onion, and mixed greens.  I am a bleu cheese fan and have had several other bleu cheese burgers around town, but this one tops them.  It was very flavorful; every bite had a great bleu cheese flavor to it.  It was a juicy patty that was cooked perfectly, with a hint of pink in the middle. It was seasoned nicely and the onion was a great addition.  One of the problems with other restaurants bleu cheese burgers is that they are always messy.  Sometimes they crumble from too much bleu cheese or the bleu cheese just falls off the top. Since this one was mixed in it had none of these problems.  I had Sweet Maui Onion kettle chips, which were similar to a more subtle sour cream and onion flavor.  They were a good fit for the Greta Burger.

The atmosphere of the shop is nice.  It is a butchers shop so the cafe takes second place, but there are tables up against the window and some nice butcher block tables in the center.  It reminds me of a kind of deli that you would see in a place like NYC. It has a good lunch spot vibe.

For a total of $6.40 after tax I got a good sized gourmet burger, kettle chips, and a large iced tea.  I thought this was a pretty good deal.  It was cheaper than “Value” meal choices at the chain fast food places and much better food.  Compared with other gourmet burger places in South Lincoln, for what you get it was a great deal.  I plan on going back to try the other things on the menu.  They have a lunch special every day that ranges between $5-6 and chef specials on the weekend that they post to their Facebook and Twitter pages.

 

Update 10/05/12:  Since this original post I have been back to Greta’s probably a dozen times.  The Greta Burger (Blue Cheese) is my favorite.  The balsamic burger is my second favorite.  It really is the best burger in town in my opinion and the opinion of many people I have brought with me.  The potato salad is a great side, and the baked beans are to die for.  They are more of a cowboy bean with several different types of beans, and small pieces of meat.   I also recommend getting their house Iced Tea.   It is a black tea, but just a great blend.  Nothing fruity just great simple Iced Tea.  The specials on many of the other days are very good as well.  You really can’t go wrong with anything at Greta’s.  

GUP Kitchen, Lincoln NE Review

GUP Cuban

WOW! is the one word way I would describe my experience for lunch on Sunday at Lincoln’s newest food truck. I found out about GUP Kitchen from friends and social media (both Twitter and Facebook). Their location hasn’t been convenient for me in the past, but on Sunday it did and I knew I had to give it a try.

GUP, stands for Ground Up and is a concept for both the food and way of making it. It comes from the idea that you should know where your food comes from; “literally from the ground up.” The reality is that everything you will eat is seasoned with hand-ground and custom-blended spices and sauces. Chef and Co-Owner, Erik Hustad studied Culinary Arts at The Art Institute of Seattle and came back to start GUP with cousin and co-owner, Gabriel Lovelace. http://eatgroundup.com/the-story/

GUP is a modern take on a food truck. It is actually a large trailer pulled behind a pickup truck. The white outside is decorated with their logo, website, twitter address, Facebook, QR code, etc. The menu is on a flat panel monitor too, pretty neat. From word of mouth I had heard that the Cuban Spiced Pork sandwich was fantastic so that is what I got along with the Mac n’ Cheese (More on that in a minute). Ordering was simple and quick.

From the first bite of my Cuban Sandwich I knew it was going to be good. The sauce makes this sandwich stand out from your average Cuban. There is a reason GUP calls it awesome sauce. It was a mayo based sauce with some unique spices. I could taste garlic, a little sugar, some citrus, and other flavors I could not really pick out distinctively, but that doesn’t matter, because it was amazing. The pork meat was very tender and juicy. It also had onions, lettuce, and small sweet peppers on it. I was a little surprised not to find pickles since this is pretty traditional on a Cuban. All of this goodness was served on a ciabatta roll from Le Quartier. I happened to eat this at my parents house and my dad wanted a bite. His response was that it was as good of Cuban Sandwich as he has ever had. I have to agree.

I had originally ordered Potato Salad with my sandwich but at the last minute decided to go with the Mac n’ Cheese because it had bacon in it. Typically Mac n’ Cheese is not something I order. It is never something I crave, but this was pretty good. This was a rich Mac n’ Cheese made with cheese, onion, and bacon added in. The bacon added something but not quite as much as I was expecting. With bacon the more the better right?

Service was fast and I enjoyed talking with the guys in the truck as they assembled my meal. They explained that it is tough to find locations where they can operate (Private Parking lots) because Lincoln’s laws do not allow them on public property or on in a parking place on,say, O street in Downtown Lincoln. Prices were very reasonable for the amount and quality of food I received. I paid $6.95 for a sandwich and it must have included a side as well because I was not charged for the Mac n’ Cheese. Portions were good, not huge but not small. I would put the value ranking higher than other “Fresh Local” food places in town with expensive overhead (Review of that place to come someday).

In conclusion I hope these guys continue to have success. Going in to the dark months of winter won’t be easy but their food is worth a trip into the cold outdoors to get. The food is outstanding, and I am happy to support young entrepreneurs in a family business venture. I will be going back and trying the Chicken Salad for sure and some of the other sides. I encourage everyone to find these guys (social media is the best way) and try them out.

GUP Kitchen Facebook Page
GUP Kitchen Twitter Page
GUP Kitchen Website

Pepperjax Grill, Lincoln NE Review

On 11-22-11 I visited PepperJax Grill (2801 Pine Lake Road, Lincoln NE) with my family at 6:30pm for dinner. This is a new Philly sandwich place very near my house. I would call it custom made to order fast food, similar to the way Chipotle makes their burritos. The line was long, way past the queuing area, past the front door and bending into the dining section. There were roughly 64 people in front of us when we got in line. To be honest I am surprised we waited, as there are other good options nearby (Crave review to come sometime soon I hope). It took about a half hour to get up to the first station where you place your order.

The Food:
Your choices at the beginning are your choice of meet (beef, or chicken), single or double meat, and then your choice of vegetables that are grilled along with the meat (onion, mushroom, green pepper). Your food is grilled in front of you as it moves down the assembly line. At the end they slap some cheese on the meat and pile it into a slightly toasted 12” hoagie roll.
The sauce table follows the cash register and is filled with lots of great stuff. They had several liquid sauces such as Au jus, mushroom sauce, and creole. Then they had toppings/sauce such as Spicy Ranch (my personal favorite), ranch, hearty steak sauce, bold steak sauce, salsa, mustard, ketchup, and many more.
I experimented and found that my perfect mix that night was a bit of au jus, followed by some bold steak sauce inside, followed up with a bit of spicy ranch in place of mayo. This combination proved to be very messy but good. Probably not the best food choice for a first date, but it would be a fun date place because of all the different choices and things to try. I really enjoyed the French fries. They were thin, straight cut, and fried to a perfect crisp. Portions of fries were small by most places standards but with such a large Philly I found that it was about the perfect amount. All of the toppings/sauces were great for dipping too.

Decor and Atmosphere
The place had a nice feel with bright colors, stainless steel, etc. The décor on the walls was neat too. It was many historic photos of Lincoln from the 1950’s and older. It was neat to see the evolution of town while waiting in line. They also had flat screen TVs in a few places as well.

Value
This place is a good value. The sandwiches are large (See picture below) and could easily be split for 2 meals if you ate a portion size with some fries. I believe the cost was about $5.50 for the beef, fries were an additional $1.50 or so. I am guessing that this place will be busy at lunch because of the good value and large portions.

The Cons
There were a few things that do need improving though. This is a new place and it was obvious that staff was still being trained on what their responsibilities are, so I am really hoping these problems will improve with time. The lines were long, and slow, let’s hope that the hype of a new place dies down and the employees are trained. While the grill team had multiple people, it was essentially made one at a time. I think they will need to improve on the workflow to speed things up to reasonable standards (10 min). The floor was dirty, lots of crumbs, some used napkins, etc. Tables were relatively clean though. I am sure this is just because they were super busy.

To sum it all up, I enjoyed my time at PepperJax Grill. I really think they will smooth out the few problems and have a lean, fast operation up in maybe another month. The food was good for fast food, and a great

MEElectronics M9 Review

Intro
Last week I made a bit of an impulse buy. I was not really in the market for new in hear earbuds/monitors but I bought some. Previously I had been using the older of my 2 pair of Sennheiser CX300s. I have had these for probably 4-5 years and really liked them. Recently I thought one ear as not outputting as much sound as the others and they had become more muddy in tone. I have been listening to a lot of podcasts and audiobooks recently so it was still ok. Well I was browsing around on Slickdeals and saw a thread all about new in ear monitors in this under $30 price range. Recently it seems that there are a lot of new upstart companies that are making fantastic sounding products for fractions of the price.

Build Quality
The build quality of the M9s are quite good. The heads are a hard metal shell and the metal looks to be anodized. I ended up with the silver buds because they were a little cheaper than black. The cord seems pretty sturdy. It is kind of slick feeling so hopefully this helps avoid knots. The cord is in a Y configuration. This is a personal preference but I much prefer the J cord style of the CX300’s. This will take a little getting use to. The plug end is bent at a 45 degree angle and I think this will work well for people who wrap the phones around a device or put the device in a pocket while using it. For my devices its a nice tight fit that really clicks in. The one area I can ding build quality is the speaker grill area. On my CX300’s its made of a wire mesh, on the M9 it looks to be a cardboard cover. I am a little concerned with how this will hold up over time, especially with sweat. I like to wear my IEM while biking.

Sound Quality
I would categorize myself somewhere between enthusiast and audiophile. I don’t have the budget to spend thousands on speakers and headphones every year but do enjoy quality. I would say I favor bass but like crisp clear full range either. Muddy strong bass for me is a pass. I tested with a variety of music. I am recently into electronic,dubstep, house stuff, but balanced this with Tech N9ne new album “All 6’s & 7’s” because of the hard hitting base but sharp clear fast lyrics. I also used Silversun Pickups, Incubus, and John Mayer. The later because this is an excellently mastered album with fine detail in the guitars.

The M9’s are advertised as for bass heads and I would not argue with that. The bass is strong but not overpowering for my taste. The bass improved as the headphones burned in (See below) the bass becamse more accurate and cleaner. The mids and highs are very crisp, with the highs maybe being too crisp and strong for my liking. This can be improved with EQ but isnt a huge thing. I think I will get use to it the more I listen. I prefer the crispness to the not as crisp mids and highs of my CX300s.

The soundstage is pretty good for in ear ear buds. Its no where nearly as large as my Sennheiser 595 cans but there is several factors of price difference too. The soundstage is large and improvement over the cx300’s.

These headphones do need a burn in period in my opinion. I was not impressed with them on first listen but I played music through them over night for 2 nights and the phones improved quite a bit. Tones mellowed out and some of the harshness of the mids and highs wore off. I would think the more I use them the more this will improve.

Fit/Noise Reducing ability
Many people do not like in ear headphones because of the fit. They say they the sound quality is poor. This is 100% down to fit. Companies need to really stress this in instructions. Without the proper fit all in ear earbuds will sound terrible. The proper fit transforms them. This said I am still experimenting with the fit of my M9’s. I really want the double flanged versions to work for me but I don’t think it will for me because they are a bit large. I do wish they had a couple of sizes of the double flanged versions but for the money your still getting a great value.
These are a ported design. The port is directly opposite of the speaker driver. It is a small hole in the metal housing. My CX300s were sealed and this worked great for noisy things and riding my bike into the wind. The ported design of the M9 still seemed to work pretty well when mowing but I did have some trouble when riding my bike. The wind noise was more noticeable than I expected. I may stick with my second pair of CX300s when riding at windy times.

Other
The amount of extras these come with is impressive for the price. The case is nice, I don’t see using it much as its not big enough to put a phone or ipod touch into, but you could fit a shuffle easily into it. The airplane adapter is super nice. I have always wanted one of these but don’t travel enough to buy one. Looking forward to trying it out. They came with 3 sizes of one flange ear tips in the bass boost (black) silicone, 1 size of double tip bass boos material. Also 1 pair of double flange tips in a balanced silicone (gray). I found the little covers a little hard to fit on but they all seem to stay.

Comparison to the CX300’s
My CX300’s have been my old reliable workhorse. I do everything in them without worry. I accepted their falts of having some muddy sound (Part of this was due the excessive wear I think I might have on my original pair). I must say that the new M9’s are better just about everywhere and I wont hesitate recommending these to anyone in the market for in ear buds for $20.

Conclusion
I bought my M9’s at Amazon for $16.99 and for the money I would say these are a fantastic value. These are so much better than any of the included headphones that come with any music player it really should be an automatic upgrade for anyone. While I have not experienced the really high end in earbuds and IEM’s I can say that the M9’s as a whole are the best I have heard. They are not without falts but I think I will get use to some of these. Time will tell how much I end up using them in the next few months. For less than $20 its very hard to go wrong.

Will update with a photo tonight.

How to make Tinto De Verano

Tinto De Verano is a traditional Spanish summer drink. Its name translates to “Red Wine of Summer”.  The drink is similar to sangria but much simpler to make.  Everyone I have made the drink for love it. I was first introduced to the drink on a trip to Spain in high school by the local kids I was with.  They explained that in Spain only tourists order sangria, local order Tinto De Verano.  The drink is very easy to make and it only really as 2 ingredients. I will explain more below.  On my return visit to Spain in 2010 I noticed that they even sell this in the grocery store now, premixed in large liter bottles.  I did not end up trying this as the real thing is so easy to make and I would guess tastes better too.The list of ingredients to make a Tinto de Verano  is very short and simple.  The main ingredients are red wine and a carbonated lemon soda.

The Wine:
While in Spain I asked about learning to make this and it was explained to me that any red wine will work to make the drink. They also said the cheaper the wine, the better usually.  In Spain we bought Liter boxes of wine for just a few Euro that worked great. This is a great way to get rid of red wine that you don’t care for is just cheap. Shiraz, Malbec, and blends containing Merlo and Cabernet Sauvignon also work well. The wine variety is really unimportant. I have found the Trader Joes famous Two Buck Chuck works pretty well.

The Soda:
In Spain two of the most popular sodas are La Casera Gaseosa which is low sugar lightly carbonated lemonade type drink. The other popular choice is Lemon Fanta.  The problem with these is that they are not widely available in the United States.  For example Lemon Fanta in the USA is not made with real cane sugar.  Anyone who has had a Mexican or European Coke will tell you there is a huge difference, the same is true with Lemon Fanta.   I will explain what I use to make the drink in the US below.

What I use to make Tinto De Veranos myself are Trader Joe’s wines.  The store recently opened in my area and they sell a couple varieties of house red wines under the label  Charles Shaw.  It sells in my area for $2.99 a bottle so it sure fits the cheap criteria.  For the soda I have found that Sunkist Lemon soda works really well.  They also have a diet variety that tastes good too.  I have read that a lemon lime soda like Sprite or 7-up also works but since these are sweeter and have lime with them it changes the flavor a bit.  I have not tried these as much.

If you want to make the drink a bit stronger you can easily add a shot of white rum. Be careful as this drink does a good job of masking alcohol so things can get out of hand pretty easily.

So now that you know about the drink here is how you make it.

Instructions:
Using a high ball glass fill the glass with several large ice cubes.
Fill the glass about 1/3 of the way full with red wine,  add optional rum.
Fill the remaining glass with the Sunkist lemon soda that has been chilled.
Stir and enjoy.

The drink should be light, refreshing and bring the fruit flavors out of the wine.  Depending on the wine being used it is acceptable to use a little bit of simple syrup or sugar to make the drink a bit sweeter if desired.  Optional garnishments include a slice of Lemon or Orange.

Below is a photo of a Tinto De Verano I made last year.