A Linux distro done right, Pop!_OS

Pop!_OSPop!_OS is a Linux distribution (distro) based on Ubuntu and made by the amazing people at System76.
When I heard that System76 made a Linux distro I was very happy, those guys and gals take their jobs seriously so I was sure that at least the design would be amazing and I was not wrong at all, their theme is a beauty.

Their new operating system is still in Alpha so it’s still too early to see what software will be shipped with Pop!_OS, but some things are expected for their clients like automatic firmware updates. The fact this OS is built upon Ubuntu means it should actually run rock solid in System76 computers even in alpha stage.

The community as usually bashed this new distro because “It’s just another one based on Ubuntu”. Linux elitism at it’s finest, these are the very same people who say Apple enthusiasts are elitists, mirrors anyone?
The more distros the merrier at least from my view, sure it might divide the community effort but at least System76 is not at the mercy of the whims of Canonical, also something tells me they will not leave Ubuntu far behind, after all it’s a strong distro with a huge community.

This new operating system is very sober and warm, it’s not as minimal as the elegant elementaryOS, after all both distros have different communities and users in mind.
System76 Pop!_OS is an impressive move towards consolidating a already very respected niche brand. After all Ubuntu’s orange folders are not the best way to impress technical minded people, not that I have anything against orange.
If System76 can harness the creativity of their own fans, some of them amazing programmers and designers, I’m sure most bugs they have in the alpha release will be solved in no time at all.

Pop!_OS is something made for very specific hardware so I will understand if System76 doesn’t give technical support to users that didn’t buy the company computers, even so it would be nice if for a annual fee users running other hardware could request some help.
It would probably be a huge task that System76 wouldn’t be willing to risk capital at, but good software can attract users to their hardware just like macOS does for Apple.

Sure it might be just another distro but given the fact that Canonical doesn’t know what to do with Ubuntu, I placed a bet on Pop!_OS alpha and installed it on my main computers.
I don’t install operating systems often and sadly the last time I placed a bet and some money on elementaryOS I was disappointed with the outcome. A beautiful design is very important but trying to reinvent the wheel and removing the possibility of customization were deal beakers at least for me. If Pop!_OS doesn’t fall in the same trap and lets users tweak and play around with the distro I’m sure many will also bet on System76.

I would be more than happy to buy their hardware if they had a online shop based in Europe but because that’s not yet possible I’ll do the second best thing and run Pop!_OS.
I don’t recommend alphas to new users so trend carefully if you go that route.
If by any chance you still want to play around you can use a live preview of the distro. Right now it’s pretty much a gnome experience with a nice theme, we still have to wait some months for a stable release, after that it will be released every six months, LTS versions are not yet confirmed.

A review of my Sony Xperia L1 (2017).

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Sony Xperia L1 (2017) photo belongs to Sony Corporation.

In the Summer of 2015 I bought a BQ Aquaris E4 to use as a DAP, fast-forward some months and the E4 became my daily smartphone. It was a decent piece of hardware, until two months ago something happened with the call reception and drop outs became the norm. To be fair the thing slipped from my hand and hit the ground but the protective case took most of the full blunt or so I thought, because it seems the antenna did suffer with the impact. Darn…

Working as a security officer a phone call can be the difference between a small problem and a massive headache. I had to fix the E4 or buy a new entry level smartphone.
Fixing the E4 for the price of the hard to get replacement parts wasn’t worth the trouble. BQ after all is a small Spanish company. If it was any other established brand I would probably fix the problem buying cheap new parts online.

I choose the second option and bought a new entry level smartphone for 200€, because I just couldn’t afford anything above that price. After all I do have kids to raise and my savings do have some limits.
I admit a lot of bias towards Sony was still present after reading the book Made in Japan, and also having two other books about the brand on my nightstand.
As a Sony Walkman fanboy I actually went ahead and bought a Sony smartphone, it was not my first one and probably not my last. I don’t regret buying it, but my wallet does!

The review title for a Sony L1 should be something like this, “Solid design, decent entry level specs and pretty amazing software”. If you want a specification driven smartphone, the L1 is not the entry level you are looking for, trust me.
If you want a smartphone you can use as a throwing weapon the Sony is a solid option. I’m joking, no sharp edges on the gorgeous design, but with it’s IPS LCD 5.5 inches anti-scratch (>6H) screen and polycarbonate body, the L1 definitely feels sturdy for daily use. The 720p HD screen has beautiful rich colors and can be viewed during a Summer day.

Don’t expect amazing sound from the little loudspeakers Sony installed in the L1, in fact the loudspeakers are often my main gripe on Sony smartphones, a company famous for amazing sound quality should have better loudspeakers on their gear.
Anyway the sound is decent if you want to watch an video, but you won’t throw a party with the L1. You can always use xLOUD or Clear Audio+ sound modes, the first mode is pretty amazing during calls in a very noisy environment. I don’t recommend the use of these modes because sooner or later the loudspeaker will suffer, don’t say I didn’t warn you about it.
The headphone output is actually quite fine in a very subjective evaluation, add that to the built in FM Radio and the L1 can be a decent Walkman in a pinch.

As for cameras the main one has 13 Megapixels and the frontal one 5 Megapixels, the photos look nice but most portable cameras will do a better job at least in my opinion.
Like most smartphones these days it can record in FHD. It has Sony sensors but nothing too fancy unlike the more expensive models of the brand.

The L1 rocks a quad core MediaTek MT6737T CPU running at 1,45 GHz x4, a dual core Mali-T720MP2 GPU, 2GB RAM, 16 GB internal memory and expansion via microSDXC card up to 256 GB, this last detail is wonderful and addresses one of my main complains about the old Sony Ericsson smartphones, lack of storage and expansion. I’m glad Sony dropped the proprietary formats and adopted the mainstream.

Everything is powered by a 2620mAh battery, not amazing in terms of power storage but features Sony tech and in that department the brand excels. My second-hand Sony st25i battery still holds charge after so many years, if that’s not quality I don’t know what is.
The L1 also has what Sony calls STAMINA and Ultra STAMINA modes, this last one literally disables non essential apps and services of the smartphone all in the name of power saving.

The L1 has many more features that I shall not enumerate here but you can visit Sony and take a look for yourself.

The software is the touchstone of the L1, Sony was amazing apps for photo, video and audio, the OS is Android 7.0 Nougat with some details added by Sony. The rock solid apps are one of the reasons I bought the Sony.
Not many bullshit comes pre-installed and for that I’m more than grateful.

The Xperia L1 is a good smartphone for users that already have a nice tablet for games and other demanding apps.
I’m biased towards Sony like I said before, so if you want a ultra lightning fast smartphone for 200€ I think you will be better served with a Chinese brand.
On the other hand if you want a very discrete smartphone for professional use I would consider this model.

If you enjoy your hobby write a blog.

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Photo by Camille Kimberly on Unsplash

When I wrote my first opinions on this blog I did it mostly to vent some criticisms related to the audiophile hobby. I was truly tired of not having a voice in the community.
After being quiet for decades I had the need to stand my ground on controversial subjects, even if I had to criticize and offend other enthusiasts along the way.
These days I must admit that I don’t feel the urge to complain so much. Writing on my blog actually released me from the frustration of not having a voice, so now I don’t need to be so blunt when I see companies trying to sell snake oil to audiophiles or other related bullshit.

I believe having a voice and a space also made me a better person online, I don’t feel so inclined to be a asshole when participating on audiophile communities. Looking at the current state of some forums I also believe many commentators should actually write a blog to release all of their hate speech, saving some newbies along the way.

In fact it’s my opinion that if you truly enjoy your hobby, you should write about it if your time allows it and your inspiration gives you a hand from time to time.
It’s fun to have our own uncensored online notepad. Communities like Reddit and forums belong to people or companies with their own agendas, so in those usually highly moderated places it’s hard to give an honest opinion without being down-voted to oblivion or harassed by other users. I more often than not watch really good opinions being down-voted by the community just because they don’t follow the sheepish opinion those users have about a brand or topic.

Lets not forget that in those communities discussions can be toxic for newbies, making them frustrated for not having the “golden ears” some audiophiles claim they have, like it’s some God given gift that only they can achieve.
These days when I visit some communities, users often discuss topics like they are in a competition. Everyone wants to win but in the end nobody actually wins anything besides some kind of status which can be removed as soon as the administrators feel you are attacking their sponsors and source of income.  Looking at the fast pace things change the best way to actually have a voice is to write on a blog.
Discussions can still happen and people can refute your opinions on their own blogs.

My wife often laughs at me when I’m ardently fighting discussing something on a social network, deep down I also laugh because I know it’s a total waste of precious time.
I could be using all that time to actually write about things I enjoy on my own blog.
Social networks are an amazing way to find people and chat about daily news but they are too volatile to be of any use in the long run. That’s why all the best articles I often read are on websites or blogs, in those places time has a different meaning and the readers actually read, unlike the users of social networks which are expected to interact with the platform.

In the end if you enjoy your hobby and want to learn more about yourself and the world, I highly advise you to write a blog one day.

Crazy collector prices in ebay and other strange occurrences.

Since my last article about the history of Beyerdynamic I had very little free time for writing, after all this is a personal blog and I work night shifts, so inspiration is not really around the corner.
On a very personal level some important things happened or are happening right now, so these days my mind isn’t really on this blog. I suppose the only good side of not making money from my writing is not actually having a schedule to follow, I write when I’m in the mood and that’s about it.
This is the part where I should promise making more updates and all that Jazz, but I’ll not make promises I can’t keep. I will on the other hand promise that I’ll try to share more photos of my compact disc and book collection just for kicks. After all vinyl enthusiasts do it all the time so why can’t compact disc collectors do the same.

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Franklin’s Indians

As for those collections, these last weeks were positively inspiring and quite expensive to be
completely sincere.
My music collection is slowly growing thanks to some online purchases on Ebay and CDON. Albums by Laura Pausini, Jimi Hendrix and the first three scores from the Indiana Jones movies are now in my possession. I’m still waiting for two Laura Pausini live albums and two studio ones by Meat Loaf.
In the book department and thanks to Ebay, I finally bought some books by David Hepworth, Akio Morita and Michael J. Fox, most of them are used but I don’t mind at all.
I also bought two pretty amazing books from other places, one is called “Franklin’s Indians” and the other is “Jazz Covers“, both books are excellent in my opinion. “Franklin’s Indians is about one of my favorite motorcycle brands. As for “Jazz Covers” it’s a very visual book about the covers of Jazz vinyl albums, it’s one of those book which is perfect for the vinyl audiophile. On a curious collector note, I paid 7€ for the Indian book, an amazing deal because these go for more than 30€ new and on amazon.com some try to sell them for more than $200!

Now let’s talk about Ebay and the reason for the strange title you read above.
Sellers these days are getting quite absurd for the money they request for old Sony Walkmans, some not working at all. I won’t even try to explain my anger when I see the price some ask for a original blue colored Sony TPS-L2 Walkman, more absurd is the fact some Marvel collectors actually buy it for insane prices just because it was in a movie! This arrived to the point of some people painting historical models that resemble the L2 just to sell them for more cash, disgusting I know but some Ebay sellers are completely bonkers.
That’s also a pretty good reason why I think the director of Guardians of the Galaxy trolled those sellers and collectors with a certain Microsoft flop, besides the joke that was intended on the movie of course.

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Sony TPS-L2

Anyway most vintage cassette Walkmans sold on Ebay these days are very expensive and sadly most were pieces of entry level gear at the time they were released so I don’t get the hype behind the sellers raising their prices.
Not all were entry models to be fair, some Walkmans were top of the line and I totally understand the higher prices for those, the TPS-L2 was a great machine for it’s time but the hype behind the pricing is totally unnecessary from my point of view. Sure we are not obliged to buy such a thing but sometimes I wish Sony would release a new L2 just to troll these people.

Ebay is a curious place full of strange occurrences.
I don’t buy really expensive stuff there but I often can’t believe the “no return” policy of some sellers, some of which don’t even take detailed photographs of their items or explain their current state. They go as far as to say that it’s the buyer who should make the questions, lazy unprofessional bastards!
Items marked “as is” or “not tested” only show the seller doesn’t really care about who buys the item, what’s important is to sell it to make a profit.  My favorite one is the “as new” in the description, when it doesn’t have all the accessories of a new item.
Ebay has all some fault in the current state of things, but sellers and buyers are also to blame. If people refused to buy bullshit, I’m sure many sellers would update their way of doing things.
Then there’s shipping, some sellers abuse the shipping option and increase their prices. Some will say it’s all part of the game but I prefer to call it bullshit fraud.

Not all things are bad on Ebay but some very strange occurrences do happen from time to time. As for me I’m glad I can buy stuff there, it saved me hundreds of Euros in a very short time.
That’s all for now and see you soon if things go as planned.

A glimpse in to the history of Beyerdynamic headphones.

I’m a fan of Beyerdynamic headphones since I had the chance to try the DT 880 in the 90s, right now I have some models from the brand in my collection and they are a joy to hear, so what comes next is a labour of love of an enthusiast and should be viewed as such.

I tried to be accurate on my research and I’m always open to corrections and constructive opinions. Any help is welcome so please feel free to leave a comment.
This article will focus on headphones I find relevant for the hobby and will be edited when needed.
It’s quite difficult to date some models without the original launch dates from Beyerdynamic, thus most release dates are approximated. I did my best but I can only do so much with the material available. A reference is provided in the end of the article.

Eugen Beyer and Beyerdynamic.

Eugen Beyer was born St. Petersburg in 1903. His German parents would later move to Stockholm, Sweden and at the age of eighteen the future electrical engineer moved from Stockholm to Berlin, a land of opportunity for a young intelligent mind.

In 1924 he founded in Berlin the “Elektrotechnische Fabrik Eugen Beyer”, a company that would start by manufacturing / developing amplifiers and loudspeakers for the first movies with sound circa 1926, a decade later in 1937 the company would release the DT 48 the first dynamic headphones. The DT 48 model would be manufactured for 56 years with only a very few modifications.

Many other technical achievements in recording and reproduction of sound would lay the foundations to a now global company.

1965_opening of the building in Heilbronn
Beyerdynamic building at Heilbronn 1965.

With approximately 350 employees in various departments , their research and
development is made “in house” and Beyerdynamic still manufactures products in Heilbronn, Germany. The company takes pride on the handcrafted work that goes it to their products and the “Made In Germany” logo further accentuates the importance given to their specialized employees who not only manufacture but also keep a close eye in the quality of the final product, something very few companies can do these days.

Eugen Beyer died in 1959, his family still owns the company after more than 90 years, an unusual practice by today’s business standards, but in my opinion also one of the reasons the company respects and listens to their clients.

Chronology 

1937 > DT 48 – A 75 years old legend.
Manufactured from 1937 to the end of 2012 the DT48 is an unusual sight in the consumer oriented world. Few companies can brag about having made a consumer product for so long.
The DT 48S model was released circa 1964, at the time it had a frequency response from 16 to 18000Hz just like the DT48, in 1971 the frequency response would go up to 20000Hz. These headphones are still avidly collected and have a massive community behind them. Tyll Hertsens from the site Innerfidelity.com measured the DT 48 E if you wonder about the sound and quality.

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The historical Beyerdynamic DT 48.

 

1969 > DT 480 Sound Juwel / DT 100 – The modular construction.
The DT 480 model had a impedance of 200 Ohm, with a frequency response from 20 to 20000Hz (Circa 1971), these Stereo headphones are in many ways similar with the DT 100 model which had an impedance of 400 Ohm and frequency response starting at 30Hz, much like the DT 202 model.
I still associate their modular construction with the 70’s and 80’s radio / TV broadcast headphones and headsets like the DT 102, or the DT 108 and DT 109 that would later be the exclusive headsets of the Olympic games in Seoul/Korea (1988).  

1970 > DT 900 – The 70’s child.
The DT 900 model had a impedance of 600 Ohm, with a frequency response from 30 to 18000Hz. The DT 900 came in a very 70’s red colour and even the ads were a product of that time.

1973 > DT 204 – Quadrophonic surround headphones.
A product of the sound advances of the 70’s these quadrophonic headphones would allow the reproduction of surround sound encoded media.

1976 > ET 1000 & N1000 – The electrostatics made in Germany.
The ET 1000 electrostatic model had a frequency response from 10Hz up to 25000Hz.
The N1000 was needed to push the power hungry electrostatics, in fact it could push two pairs if necessary. Sadly these were the only electrostatics Beyerdynamic ever did, they were made at least until circa 1984.
Looking at the quality of their current Tesla technology I can only imagine the amazing things they could have achieved had they continued developing electrostatic headphones.

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The Beyerdynamic ET 1000 & N1000.

1976 > DT 220 – A closed back with a lot of personality.
The DT 220 model had a impedance of 400 Ohm, with a frequency response from 20 to 20000Hz. These very robust closed back headphones probably were the inspiration for the DT 770 design.

1976 > DT 440 / DT 444 Infraphone – The silver twins.
Both models are similar in design, the DT 440 was a wired dynamic stereo headphone with a impendance of 600 Ohm and a frequency response from 20 to 20000Hz. The DT 444 Infraphone was a wireless model that needed a infrared emitter to work.
There was also a model called the DT 441. Sadly I couldn’t find more reference specifications about the 444 and 441 models.

1980 > DT 880 – A legend is born.
The release of the DT 880 would prove to be an advance in the quality of dynamic headphones. Beyerdynamic compared the performance of this model with electrostatic headphones something unheard at the time.
In the 80’s 3 versions of the DT 880 model were manufactured, the “Studio”, “Monitor” and standard versions, each had a different target market. They differed slightly between each other on design, construction choices and frequency response.
The “Studio” model had a frequency response from 5 to 35000Hz, the “Monitor” went from 5 to 30000Hz and the standard version went up to 25000Hz. All models had a 600 Ohm impedance. The vintage DT 880 is now a collectors item, after more than 3 decades some still sound amazing for their age.

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The Beyerdynamic DT 880 during the 80’s.

1980 > DT 660 / DT 550 / DT 330 –  The forgotten ones.
In the 80’s Beyerdynamic had models that were sadly eclipsed by the DT 880 legend.
(Circa 1984) The DT 660 MKII had frequency response from 15 to 25000Hz with a 600 Ohm impedance. The DT 550 had a frequency response from 10 to 22000Hz also with a 600 Ohm impedance and finally the DT 330 MKII had a 40 Ohm impedance and a frequency response from 15 to 18000Hz. All the models had very respectable specifications so I’m sure many collectors still want them.

1985 > DT 770 – The musician best friend.
The DT 770 closed back model would also become a legend on it’s on right. The very robust Pro version is still cherished by musicians in every part of the world. The 10 to 30000Hz frequency response and 600 Ohms impedance (Circa 1993) were also probably very good reasons this model achieved a cult status in recording studios.

1985 > DT 990 – An open dynamic reference.
The DT 990 was for a time the best open back model Beyerdynamic had to offer, the 600 Ohm impedance and 5 to 350000Hz frequency response made these flagship headphones a professional reference.

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The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro and DT 770 Pro during the 90’s.

2006 > Headzone – Surrounded by sound.
A technology for reproducing 5.1 virtual surround sound via headphones, mostly a tool for professionals that would later be released to the mainstream public.

2009 > T1 – Tesla technology unleashed.
The T1 model was the first headphone to bring the new tesla technology to the table, the new flagship model had a frequency response from 5 to 50000Hz and a impedance of 600 Ohm.

2015 > DT 1770 Pro
Inspired by the DT 770 the new DT 1770 Pro is a closed back studio flagship which uses the same tesla technology as the T1. The frequency response goes from 5 to 40000Hz and the impedance is 250 Ohm.  

2016 > DT 1990 Pro
The DT 1990 Pro are the evolution of the DT 990 open back model. The specifications are the same as the DT 1770 Pro.

2024 > The Future.
Beyerdynamic will be 100 years in the year 2024.
I’m sure many good things are still yet to come.

Editor notes and acknowledgements.
Again please note the chronology above only refers to relevant headphones, the Beyerdynamic timeline is full of important achievements, for more information please visit beyerdynamic.com. Also I’m well aware I didn’t include the famous DT 49 used in Plattenbars (record-bars) in the 50’s.

The frequency response and impedance are there just to give an very general idea about the specifications of the headphones. You can visit the wegavision website and research the old Beyerdynamic catalogs or again go to Beyerdynamic.com and access their specification pages.

This article would not be possible without the help of many collectors who contributed with catalogs on the wegavision website and many others who devoted their time to collect, restore and measure Beyerdynamic headphones.  To all of them my sincere thank you!

My sincere gratitude goes also to Beyerdynamic for letting me use in this article the photographs of the Beyerdynamic building in Heilbronn and the DT48.
Last but not least for the correction on the city of birth of Eugen Beyer.

References:
http://www.generationaudio.com
http://www.beyerdynamic.com
wegavision.pytalhost.com (Catalogues)
http://www.gbaudio.co.uk/data/dt100.htm (Specifications)
http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/historic-beyerdynamic-dt-48-e-25-ohm
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quadraphonic_sound
http://www.radiomuseum.org
http://www.head-fi.org

Copyrights:
For legal reasons all images belong to their respective owners and are not included on the main Creative Commons license of my blog. 
If you want to use any image of this article please contact their respective owners.
The Beyerdynamic building in Heilbronn and DT48 photographs are used with permission from Beyerdynamic.
All other photos belong to the Beyerdynamic catalogues found at Wegavision, they are used to depict old models of historical interest.