thoughts and decisions for a creative edge

Author Archive

Lightning iPhone7 Interview Microphones

So I’ve been looking at the current options of microphones compatible with the iPhone 7 Plus which I use. There are many, but very few that would give you the quality in par with this selective ones. You could use the built-in mic of the iPhone7 but at times, they are still not good enough when you need that that specific sound capture directionally for blogs and interviews or for proper ambient audio capture. Here’s some that should handle those projects for you. They are made specially to be plugged directly into your iPhone’s Lightning port and would sometime even come with a dedicated app to help you with the task in hand.


As a mini shotgun directional microphone, the Shure MV88 definitely looks the part. It has a 90 degree hinge which allows you to adjust it to your audio source and get the best sound. The solid metal build mic comes with a windshield to use during windy day recordings. Do note that the MV88 is a condenser microphone that doesn’t require a battery, but it does draw on the iPhone’s power supply. Price: €159



Lavalier, or tie-clip, mics are the go-to mics for many audio and video pros. Sennheiser is renowned for its range of quality top-end microphones, so you should expect top-notch sound from its Lightning connector lavalier mic. The ClipMic Digital provides superb quality and is a bit of a bargain at €239 compared to other studio lav mics. There is no gain control so any volume adjustments will have to be made in-app, but reviews highlight Sennheiser’s tie-clip as an essential accessory.




IK Multimedia provide a range of different mics and accessories to attach your own professional microphones to the iPhone/iPad and Android phones. Its iRig Mic HD is a handheld microphone of outstanding quality that gets great reviews from users across the spectrum. For interviews, voiceovers or music, this handheld is a great option. The Mic HD has a solid metal body so it can take a few knocks. For around €239 it offers a pre-amp for better audio recording and gain control to boost signal




Zoom’s iQ6 is an omnidirectional X/Y stereo microphone that will be familiar to users of the Zoom range of handheld audio recorders. The dual microphones have a crossover configuration that captures an excellent stereo audio image and can be changed from 90 to 120 degrees to get a wider angle. It has a headphone port so you can listen in to the sound you are capturing and at £70 is a quality mic at a low price.




If you already own a bunch of microphones with or without an XLR connection, then IK Multimedia has something that would be the conduit for your smartphone. It’s most recent Lightning connector is called the iRig Pro I/O. At around €150 it’s a little pricey but delivers incredible quality. It has Its real advantage is in the quiet pre-amp audio quality and built-in phantom power – via a battery or wall plug accessory – so it doesn’t sap the iPhone.

What do you think? Have you got any preference mic or adapters that you use with the new iPhone7 or iPad? Let me know if you do! I’m always looking out for something new out there to have a compact rig with me for audio recordings.


Listening through Lightning

There is no sound from Lightning. What we hear is Thunder. – rastAsia


Straight to the chase.

While Apple calls it ‘moving forward’ incorporating wireless audio into their latest handy. I smell it as their sly attempt to nudge sales via its headphone accessories. There’s now reason to actually visit the page to see ‘what solutions’ is in store to this new problem they’ve created. Brilliant. So yeah, there’s another trip to your wallet. All the moaning and groaning from new/old iPhone adopters (is inaudible) until now. Yes that headphone jack is missing.

For the record, its clearly mentioned that the Lightning Earpods and Lightning-To-Jack adapter is included in the box. The advertized cool wireless Airpods however would set you back $159. Knowing me, I think it wouldn’t take long before I lose the jack adapter. And I will also lose one side of the Airpods just as quick. My solution? I’ll tape the adapter to the dedicated earphone. Why would I want to conform using the Lightning Earpods when it’s not flexible to be used on other devices, say my laptop?

The rest of the audio world is observing with a smile.

Lastly, here’s a scenario:
If you’re on a private conference call with the Lightning Earpods and the phone battery is suddenly in desperate need to charge, there is no other way but to BT your audio and plug in your charger through the very lightning port. No BT headphone? Then you’re forced to take the call via speaker. The only solution that I can find right now to beat this is via Belkin’s Rockstar dongle which allows simultaneuos charging and talking. It’s a $40 solution to your future complains.

Whoever it is that approved the design to omit the audio jack ought to be applauded – with their face in between these two hands. Anyway, I think it’s also time to get an external flash drive before the phone gets you. You knew that already – no external microSD slot available like that of the Samsung S7.





Røde Link vs Sennheiser G3

Somebody just told me that Røde Link system is better than Sennheiser’s evolution G3 which we use. 

Really? I thought I’ve been absent far too long from all these new techs going on in Australia. But a short specs googling read-out tells me this..

Røde Link is 2.4Ghz and limited to approx 100m line of sight up to max 8 channels. While I know Sennheiser G3 still has notorious max range of about 300m compared and smart pairing of up to 128 channels customizable. 

So which one was better you said?

But if course with the price point, røde will be more attractive and maybe simpler to use. That’s until you start making deeper system and audio comparisons.

The Frequency Of Fear – A Mythbuster Test

We’re big fans “Mythbusters”. Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman filmed a segment called “The Haunted Hum” during their “Fright Night” Halloween episode. The two test an urban legend that claims that there is frequency around 19 Hz that can produce feelings of discomfort, dread and, yes, even fear. But the thing is, 19 Hz is below the threshold of human hearing, so these feelings are produced without anyone being able to hear the note.

The Mythbusters recruited sound scientist Dr. Roger Schwenke from Meyer Sound to help test the myth, and Schwenke brought quite the setup to a remote area in Northern California. That setup? A group of nine Meyer Sound 11000-LFC low-frequency control element speakers that produce about 40,000 watts of power.Meyer Sound Speakers

Here’s how it worked: a group of subjects were spread out among four cabins, one of which had the group of speakers behind it producing the alleged fear note.

“One cabin was subjected to infrasonic sound while the other control cabins had no sound,” Schwenke said. “Although the cabins were essentially identical, the idea was to ask the participants if one cabin seemed more eerie or frightening than the others.”

Schwenke also described the specifics of the set up.

“We used the U-shape to get the 1100-LFCs as close together as possible,” he said, “and to direct any higher overtones away from the cabin so we could get the infrasonic level as high as possible without anything being audible… We had to be careful with that level because, at around 95 dB, we started rattling the cabin walls. That would have been a dead giveaway.”

The episode aired on October 28, but in case you haven’t seen it yet, I won’t give away whether the myth was confirmed, busted or deed plausible. However, I do have Schwenke’s thoughts on the unheard note.

“I did feel a sense of unease,” he said. “You could tell when it was on even though you couldn’t hear anything. It was more of a whole-body, change-in-the-air sensation, an undefined ominous feeling.”


This isn’t the first time audio myths have been put to the test on “Mythbusters.” Previous episodes have tested whether a human voice can actually break glass, if sound can extinguish flames and if there is really something known as the “brown note.”

If you haven’t heard of that last one, we’re going to leave it to you to check out on your own time.

Dark truth on how the Dutch got their cycle paths.

The Netherlands have the world’s largest cycling community.It’s also one of the safest place in the world to cycle. But how did they get this high quality cycle culture going? Many unethically assume that it’s always been there.

Like other bustling countries, cycling was marginalized in post WWII during Dutch economy boom. But with the sudden economy rise, comes increase in road-builds with heightened use of automotive vehicles. It is during this period that the Dutch paid it’s price with the loss of pedestrians and cyclists. In 1971 alone 3300 lives were lost, over 400 of which were of children under 14. This figures outraged its citizens and protests demanding a stop to this slaughter was carried out in major cities. “Stop Kindermoord” meaning Stop Murdering Children being the slogan. Consequent rise in oil pricing during economic crisis in ’73 meant that they had to change the way they do things and be less dependent on automobiles. The cycling culture in which the Dutch demanded for fitted perfectly.

Looking at the problems that the Dutch had to tackle back in 1970s makes it a good model for other developing countries who want to adopt the same solution in tackling traffic congestions.

When I was a kid, I cycled to school in Singapore and this was a rather daunting thing for any parents. And when I moved to New York City, the bicycles I own emigrated with me. It is without doubt a liberation when coming to live in the Netherlands later. The cycle facilities is incomparable to any other countries that I’ve seen. It is however a growing consciousness for many countries in Europe to weave in the cycling awareness in its bigger cities. In fact there are bicycle rental companies that is available in these countries’ capital in Europe. Do take note the next time you wanna have a zippy travel.

Chech, Paris, London, Barcelona, Netherlands ANWB.

Vibram FiveFingers. Don’t believe the Signa hype.

I was curious about Vibram FiveFinger shoes that keeps popping up in stores and web stores. I own a couple of Vibram-soled shoes. Many which I can swear by. From RockPorts to UGG which have outlasted other shoes I own. If you haven’t heard about the FiveFingers, these are basically extremely light ninja-like shoes like those of the dorky fingered socks.. except made of more durable material and a sole to cushion your feet from the impacts it receives from various form of exercises and activities. They make these for distance running, trail running and just daily use too. In favour of the weightless ergonomic look and since I do tonnes of dragon boating and stand up paddling, I kinda got my eyes set on one of their products which markets specifically for water activities.

There are various kind of shoes you can wear while doing water activities. Most of these would be neoprene based from 2mm to 5mm for various weather conditions. These are good but it usually gets pretty hot and sweaty when you’re wearing them in the peak of summer. This design however are derived from scuba diving or snorkelling as they cool you down when you’re submerged in water. But when you’re staying on ground exposed to hot sun or winter’s weather, it can be pretty unbearable. Then there is the netted top material aqua-shoe that’s sprawling the market with a thick polyurythane sole underneath. Even though they work for its purpose, you tend to however lose your sole senses due to its thick unflexible soles. Despite all the comfort claims, this shoes make your toes and feet completely senseless; like having on gum boots when you want to feel the grass under your feet. If you catch my drift.

When in water, and on a paddle board, you want to feel connected to the water. Many will either go bare feet as it gives you that connection while you’re applying pressure on the deck of the board whilst paddling. On a dragonboat or SUP in summer weather, barefeet feels great but you don’t want to step off the board into old deck splinters or unexpected sharp rocks. And for us who trains on fresh water, these murky water sometimes makes your feet slippery during the power phase of your stroke. You’re transferring the full weight of the paddle to the bottom of your feet and the last thing you’d want it to do is slip.

Less about paddling technique, back about the Signa shoe and its advertising claims.

Whether kayaking, surfing, paddle boarding or simply walking the rocky shores all summer, the FiveFingers® Signa is the shoe for you. The segmented Coral outsole made of Vibram® TC-4 Plus rubber ensures ultimate grip and protection in the water and allows natural foot flexion when swimming. Small perforations in the sole encourage water drainage, minimize weight, and speedup drying time. The upper is built with a combination of synthetic and abrasion resistant fabrics to protect the foot. The Signa is finished off with a structural hook and loop strap for a secured fit. Machine washable. Air dry.

So I bought myself the Vibram FiveFingers Signa in January 17, 2015. I decided on these vs the TrekSport which also claims to be water specialized design due to its breathing sole. Water in – water out. Quick dry. It takes a bit of practise to get these on and off your feet. As advised, you should choose the proper size that allow your heel to firmly seat in the heel cup and for me this was one size smaller than the normal shoe size I wear. So in general, if you’re like me wearing a 44 you’d want to get a 43 to have a proper snug fit. So Jack is happy with his shoe fit. But through time and putting it to its paces, that’s where it becomes less desirable. Jack is starting to not like it.

After less than six months of use (2nd June 2015 at the time of writing) the shoe is starting to break apart. The first to snap off was the rear loop. You have to understand the snugness of these shoes when you try to get them on. The thing just decided it’s had enough and snapped off exactly where the stitches are. It was a perfect rip. Like that of a postage stamp. This was just the first of many other failure symptoms to come.

Broken Loop

The following week during my SUP race here in Netherlands, I thought the shoe had a less snug feel. A closer look unveiled that the rubber seal which connects the sole to the upper synthetic material is also torn. I’m beginning to doubt that this shoe was ever tested on and off water for this length of use. But 3x a week and about 2 hours average each time is not too much I think.

Torn sole seam

And the rest just starts to fall apart. The glue adhesive on the bottom of the toes have also started to give way and if you look closely to the upper synthetic material, it has started to tear in various places. It may be made for water, but I think its just not weather-proofed. This shoes dry fast but it feel like the materials used couldn’t withstand the repeated wet-wear and dry over a repeated period – of I say 6 months.

Glue wears off

Synthetic upper layer cracks and tears

So now I am at a loss of whether the shoe was well worth the $90 I paid for when it starts to deteriorate after 6 months of use. I wear them on average 3x a week for my dragonboat and SUP trainings. Nothing extreme like jumping rocks / running distances what so ever. To make matters slightly more complicated, I got these in Florida during my travel and I doubt the retailers in Netherlands would even want to bother with my issue on this shoe even if they stock them here on the shelves. But one thing for sure, I’d be more wary to look for feedbacks on this water-claim Signa shoes before giving them your hard earned money.

If any of you know where I can get this fixed, replaced or warrantied, do direct me to the right pls. I twittered about the torn loop once on Twitter with @FiveFingers tagged on it but never got any response from them. Too busy selling I guess.

Needless to say. It might be the last time I look into FiveFingers as a watersports wear. I was sceptical when I got it, and despite the great feel it gives, the sudden wear and break down on its material and build makes it an undesirable product for its claimed purpose. I guess I’m back to the old smelly neoprene boots when I hit the water. At least they can take the 5 year beatings without a problem. Don’t believe the hype. And don’t fall for false marketing.

Tom Petty said, “You gotta turn it up to hear it.” #HiResAudio.

Instead of Pono hardware that Neil Young’s been tossing about as a salesman promoting HiRes music, Tom Petty is busy in the studio remixing most of his albums for HiRes export. There are affordable alternatives to be able to playback this HiRes files. It all depends on the Digital Audio Conversion hardware you have on you. Obviously a plain laptop will not be ideal to listen to this files, even those laptop speakers that says BEATS on it. No. Using some recent programs like VOX, you will be able to playback 24/192 audio but you’re still not going to get the optimized audio quality from that speaker or headphone output. Instead look out for external DAC converters, this will by-pass the default output and route the audio data through higher quality converters. I have been happy using my Fiio X3 which uses Wolfson’s WM8740 DAC chip. The X3 doubles up as a DAP (Carry around DA Player) as it can store FLAC files into its MicroSD card. The device pushes audio out through a separate amplifier AD8397 chip that doesn’t add color or noise to the sound. I’ve just started carrying DAPs with me, and no iPod or Walkman can compare with its audio playback. In fact I think it might be a good time to upgrade to a dual DAC converters, even though it’s a little pricey, but well worth the ear massage.

Well that is in a nutshell about my early endeavour with HiRes portable playback. But that’s only about the D/A player or converter. There’s a universe of choices when it comes to which speakers, monitors, or headphones you should be listening from. But the bottomline, start from the ones you can afford. And learn to listen better instead of blasting MP3s when you can be listening to the original studio mix as how Tom mixed it.

Cheers. Enjoy the beautiful spring season.