Listening with children

This year is still young, but I’ve already achieved one of my life goals/resolutions. I’ve started a ritual of sorts with my 2 year old daughter. We listen to the hifi together. And she loves it!

I play cds with her. We pick a nice album based on the artwork, and I pick a nice track. Af after one song we switch albums. In one session we covered Pink Floyd, Bob Marley, Elvis, Dylan, and a few others. She now asks for “music with daddy”. My life is complete 😂

The fun for her seems to be time alone with me. She enjoys picking the cds and then deciding if she likes the song or not.

I always point out the obvious sounds and instruments to her (drums, guitar, singing).

We spin around in my office chair at fun parts of the songs.

It is so much fun, and way more successful than I thought it would be.

Happy Tuesday chimps.

Hifi Inventory 2: Speakers and Headphones

Speakers

1. Denon SC-M41 speakers – a beautiful little system this one D-M41 | HiFi System with CD and Bluetooth | Denon

2. Q Acoustics 2020i – the best speakers i have at the moment. Linked to my TV they are probably underutilized (Much like my Onkyo amp) but I love them, especially when they are playing an LP. Q Acoustics 2020i review | What Hi-Fi?

Headphones

1. Audio Technica “Grandioso” ATH W1000X – Beautiful to look at, not for wearing while walking, but comfortable and wonderful sound – especially if you link up to a powerful amp like the Asgard 2. Audio Technica ATH-W1000x “Grandioso” | InnerFidelity

2. Beats Solo3 Wireless – Apple is as Apple does – syncing and effortless interplay between hardware and software makes these very cool. Sound pretty tight too. Beats Solo 3 Wireless review | What Hi-Fi?

3. Audio Technica M50 – Oldest set i own and still working perfectly after 11+ years. Very nice introduction to good headphones. Ridiculous cable. Best for the home studios Audio Technica ATH-M50 review | What Hi-Fi?

4. AKG Y50BT – these are incredible sounding for a great price. Best for commuters. Be warned – young children are prone to destroying the Earpadding…which is replaceable from Chinese ebay merchants for a low fee. https://www.whathifi.com/akg/y50bt/review

Hifi Inventory 1 – Amplifiers

1. Schiit Asgard 2 headphone amp. A beautiful addition to your desktop. It suits the Apple aesthetic and it will crank any headphones you can throw at it. Schiit Audio, Headphone amps and DACs made in USA.

2. Onkyo TX8270 Stereo amp / network receiver. This is what powers our TV setup. It is a bit of an overkill at the moment considering the majority of our TV watching these days consists of “Pippa Pig”, “Puffin Rock” and “Llama Llama”. But I digress – this thing will give you any music you can think of, from Spotify Connect to Tidal to TuneIn radio, it will stream from the net. Then there is the DSD option, Bluetooth…basically anything you can think of. And it’s powerful enough for most speakers. Onkyo | TX-8270

3. Denon DM41 mini Hifi. This is a beauty for bookshelf or desktop in a small room. CDs and other inputs and Bluetooth make it very flexible – it sounds amazing too. Highly recommended. Denon D-M41DAB review | What Hi-Fi?

4. HRT MicroStreamer. This thing is a portable Amp and DAC to improve the sound from your laptop or cellphone. It certainly sounds good hooked up to the Asgard, but I am not sure if it is any better than the laptop’s internal system. Either way. Hifi marketing works on me. HRT microStreamer review | What Hi-Fi?

5. Musical Fidelity A1 stereo Amp – this one I got second hand from a wheeler dealer who sold me on the sound by hooking it up to an insane set of speakers. I couldn’t afford the speakers but the old map was doable. It’s (supposedly) a Class A amp which means a better build and sound. I need to get some speakers to really test it. Musical Fidelity A1 › Introduction

Hifi Inventory

Hifi equipment seems to grow in the corners of my house like a sort of ‘metal and wires’ fungus. It drives my wife crazy, but I can’t get enough of it. You see, setting up Hifi systems is strangely soothing to my mind. It gives me an escape from the jungle of life, and of course it gives me music.

To keep track of this (expensive) habit, I am starting a new section under the menu and widgets section (top right of the chimpwithcans.com webpage). “Hifi Inventory” will keep track of what I have and what I lust after. Maybe it will help me keep track of spending too!

What do you collect? Is it creating more of a jungle in your life? Or is it somehow helping you escape?

Room design

I change the set up of my house quite frequently. It’s not something I thought I would become interested in, but interior design can impact your health, your mood, your daily movement.

The latest casualty is our bedroom. There is a small flight of stairs leading into the room. It used to be that as soon as you walked down the three or four stairs, our bedside table got in your way, then our bed got in your way. You had to make a hard left turn to get anywhere else in the room.

Now the bed and table are the other side of the room, freeing up the entry. The “Flow” of the room (ha! I’m writing about “room flow”) is so much better now that you can walk down the stairs and just keep on going. If you like you can keep going all the way through the room, unimpeded to the garden. It’s amazing how much difference this one change has made.

I also rigged up a sweet Hifi system in the bedroom using an old amp with Denon speakers and a chromecast. Check out the photos on the @chimpwithcans Instagram page if you like.

I can just feel the different vibe in the room. There is a “flow” as you arrive, and the music makes you want to stay.

Happy work environment

A big, broad work desk. In a quiet and comfortable office. My ideal workspace is clear of clutter and has access to the net and electricity for the laptop. There’s light enough to see. It smells nice. I have art on the wall.

Setting up my office and desk multiplies out over months and years. Over time, being comfortable at work adds up to a career and my own personal health. In many corporates we are not given the option to customize our workspace, which is a shame. I’m very lucky to have an office at home which I can adjust.

Like anything, a work space is subject to atrophy and creeping chaos over time. Clutter builds up in the most annoying way. If the size of the desk is wrong, or the seating is bad, or the connectivity options are not there it can have a huge impact on what I can achieve on any given day. The balance needs to be maintained or else it will fall apart. Next time you sit down to work, have a run through your senses. What does it feel like, smell like, what can you hear? What can you see around you? (lets assume you eat somewhere else and leave taste for now!).

At one point, I had a bad work chair hurting my back, there was not enough light to see properly, and dead rats in my office roof were stinking the place out. I was one step away from a human rights violation in my own home!

A new roof, some lighting and an ergonomic chair means my big, broad work desk is far more inviting. I have art on the wall. I have music. I have electricity. I have the internet. Most satisfying.

Pixies

The pixies as a band passed me by. I was a little too young and a little too stuck in east Africa for their first few albums to make any impact on my life. However, the beauty of music streaming services now is that I can dig into all the rich history.

I sometimes wonder why as a society we make all this new music when there is so much to discover in the back catalogues. Maybe they should put a moratorium on new releases until everyone has caught up with listening to everything ever released to date?

Just an idea.

https://music.apple.com/za/album/doolittle/7060469

Retail, reviews, Hifi and schools

The other morning there was a big Takealot and Superbalist promotion on the radio. They had sales on their websites based on user ratings, reviews, and wishlists. This was interesting and curious to me.

Then I learned that the concept is not so new. Amazon already has physical “4 star stores” in the USA which are packed with goods rated 4 stars or more.

Hifi of course is a market dominated by reviews. Stars and ratings offer a convenient way to compare one product to another, but are they really what you should be measuring and what you should decide your purchase on? What have you bought lately because of user reviews? What about based on some other measurement such as decibels or resolution? What about subjectively trying the product out before you buy? Personally I have always bought something without even trying it. Maybe that should change with something so subjective as art appreciation (listening to music).

How about another market – choosing a school for your child. Should this be done based on a simple rating/5 star model? To me, the fact that individual personalities are so different means that more care needs to be taken to find a place. But of course socio economic, geographic and other factors come into play. Can you access the school? Can you afford it? Can your child get in with their grades?

I think that the way Amazon and online mass retail has developed means we are perhaps more and more likely to look for the simple star rating, even if this is not a true indicator of what we need.

Getting bored and having energy

Is getting bored a good thing?

In the age of Facebook, Netflix, Spotify and Fortnite it’s easy to let the system take control. If you allow them, these streaming, entertaining, dopamine tripping platforms will keep you glued to your seats all day. They won’t let you get bored.

This thing is, getting bored serves a function. As far as I can tell, the whole purpose and spiritual breakthrough of Yoga is to cope with boredom and through this to reflect on life. No time for that in a video game.

Some other activities where boredom is there to be overcome:

Taking a walk with no phone in hand. Just walk.

Listening to an album from start to finish. Just listen

Running for 30 minutes straight. Just run.

When were you last bored?