Need headphones?

One of my favorite things to do is listening to music (duh). And for a very long time now, I can no longer let myself go with the stock headphones that come with the mp3 players/portable devices. I will provide some guidance here in picking headhpones. First, let’s explore the important attributes of headphones and then move on to some recommendations, it’s only several:

Earbuds/full-size(open or close): Main concern is where you want to carry the headhpones, how portable, and how weird can you bear yourself to look…it’s all personal preference here. There are some very capable earbuds exist these days (shures, sony…) But the full-size usually offer fuller sounds. For the full-size, a close headphones will keep the sound in and provide better sound isolation in most cases. An open full-size can offer better soundstage but will have much sound leak, so don’t buy open headphones if you want to keep the music to yourself in the environment.

Frequency Response (Hz): This attribute determines how high/low of a pitch the headphones can reproduce. In other words, the bigger the range, the richer the sound will appear. This is the main factor for me in picking a pair of headphones (and then the price too of course).

Nominal Impedance (ohm): The higher the value, the more power will be needed to drive the headphones. In other words, if you get a headphones with very high ohm, you will need to get an amp to make it sound louder on your computers/portable devices.

Let’s go on to the 4 headphones I own and recommend sorted based on a combination of liking/cost-efficiency:

1) Sennheiser PX10015-27000 Hz, $50~, you get a open over-the-head headphones with very crisp high and deep bass. It’s also foldable, making it easy to carry around. Best bang for the bucks.

2) Sony MDR-EX90LP Stereo Earphones5 – 25000 Hz, $90~, I would say this pair has comparable sound to PX100. The only reason it’s ranked 2nd is because of the price. It’s around $90. It comes with 3 pairs of plastic ear pieces of different sizes, MAKE SURE you find the best-fit, which is required to get the best sound from these. This is the pair I usually travel with because it doesn’t leak sound being in-ear and provides very good sound isolation.

3) Sennheiser HD-595 Premier Headphone12-38500Hz, <$200, a full-size open headphones that has very comfortable paddings that surround the ear. For less than $200, you will get even better/richer sound than PX100 and also a better soundstage (spacious feeling). Though one may say the difference is subtle. You will need to judge if the difference is worth the bucks. You will need an amp to hear the best sound from these “cans”. Oh, and watch out for bad-hair…

4) Sony MDR-EX51LP Fontopia Headphones6 – 23,000 Hz, $25-$30, a cousin of the 2nd place sony headphones, Sony MDR-EX90LP. This is actually the 1st pair of “good” headphones I purchased. It’s also the cheapest here. It’s essentially the same as Sony MDR-EX90LP with muddier sound. Still much better than stock headphones. I use this in the gym.

All of the above headphones are comfortable enough to wear for hours, IMO. I’m by no means stereo sound professional or an audiophile like some out there, but for the love of music, I sincerely hope this is helpful for others out there hunting for headphones for hearing music on their mp3 players/laptops/computers at office.
May you find the best sound.

Piano Student 1 and Piano Studnet 2

I was early for my piano lesson today, so I got the pleasure to witness part of the lesson of another younger student that goes kind of like this…

Teacher: Oh good, let’s get you another piece to play.
Student: Another piece? I alreagy got two…
Teacher: …
Student: I’ll do an easy one.
Teacher: How about this one?
Student: (start talking about cockatrice, which was part of the name of the piece I think)
Teacher: Oh good…interest… let’s play now.
Student: (flip through books, found another piece) I know this one, let’s do this one. (proceeds to start playing with right hand)
Teacher: Great…let’s add the left hand…
Student: (trying to play the chords for left hand…) I’m tired… (took a deep breathe, start shifting around)
Student: (trying to play a little more) I don’t want to do this one anymore. (moving around in chair, wouldn’t play)
Teacher: Dude, stop wasting time, play the piece…
Student: Your time is my time…I need to finish my book report… (kept on talking)
Teacher: (trying very hard to stay calm…”RARRRRRRRRR”, I think that’s what he’s saying inside :P)

Take that and imagine MORE talk going forth and back, then you have the actual situation. Luckily, my teacher did find a 3rd piece that he was able to go through with the kid. He saw the smirk on piano student two – ME -‘s face and his comment to me, “Oh yeah, you are so much easier to teach… fortunately he’s one of the worst already, hahaha…”

On the other hand, while I was waiting for my lesson, my teacher’s mother gave me some reassuring compliments on my piano playing – “很好聽, 很有感情” (enjoyable and involves lots of emotions). Not to brag (maybe a little :P) but this gives me a new surge of motivation, especially for me picking up piano at an older age. I can’t help but have some doubts of how far I can take it. If techniques are lacking, you can still practice… but if a person’s piano does not carry emotion, it’s probably more difficult to correct. So this is definitely a nice timely “pad on the back” that makes me more motivated than ever to keep on playing and practicing, for the love of piano and for whatever audience there maybe…even if it’s just one.

Steven’s Creek Trail

I paid a visit to Steven’s Creek Trail here in Mountain View. It has been a long while since I’ve been to there. I used to be a frequent visitors of the trail with my bike… which was stolen on campus more than a year ago.

Despite the cooler temperature, there were still many visitors to the trial. The trail runs amidst the city yet still maintains a sense of isolation, even though you can still see all the buildings hosting all the tech. companies. The buildings only stretch mostly at the beginning part (1.5 miles I think) of the trail going from Moffet. There are plenty of greens, water, and fresh air.

I only walked a short part of the trail today. Here is the photo album.

Piggy Hit 130 :)

Good news! I finally hit 130 on a scale today! I know body weight fluctuates a lot throughout the day, but it has been a long long while since I was over 130, like 1.5 years ago before I returned to Stanford after my period of leave-of-absence.

You all must be thinking, “what? so excited about being 130. This guy is nutz…” Why am I so happy? For the folks who know me, it’s not difficult to understand because it’s insanely difficult for me to gain weight. (I hope I don’t get attacked or killed for saying that…) Probably due to a combination of living habits (sleep, what sleep?) and insanely high metabolism. After a lot of effort of keeping up with my diet and consistently hitting the gym, I finally hit a milestone, albeit a small one. Actually, I find it interesting becauase I reached 140 before; however, I am certain that I am more in-shape now than when I was 140.

How much am I really doing? Actually, unlike other people who go to the gym 1-2 hours. I go 30-45 minutes for 2-3 times each week, being my efficient-lazy self. I do not do cardio in the gym and instead, leave the cardio requirement to playing basketball outside. My routine in the gym consist of doing the MAX weight on each machine/free-weight that allow me to do 3 rounds of 8 rapses at each station. In addition to that is some “piggy-style” situps to build that 6-packs that leaves me with immense pain right after, which I will not go into details here. Contact me if you are interested. To my knowledge, for people who want to tone and have lean muscles, they should do 3-4 rounds of 12+ rapses. In other word, focus on quantity over amount of weight. These are just what works for me, so please contact a profession trainer for advice.

Peronsally, I don’t want to be profoundly huge. I don’t think it looks that great aesthetically (no offense!) and especially for one with my height…haha. BUT! I have to say being in shape is closedly knitted to self-confidence and a healthy mind. Not to be superficial, I will say that being in shape and also somewhat fashionable do provide a boost in one’s confidence. Tell me who wouldn’t feel good knowing yourself is a better looker :P Besides, health should be the top priority in our lives. Not only we’ll be happier, it’s also the fact that only when we can take care of ourselves, we can take care of others.

Hence, exercise should be an essential part of our lives. To really make it an integral part, we cannot think of it as an “extra” activity in the day or some sort of burden that takes away our time. Make it a habit to go to the gym, walk or run outside, or whatever sports you like to do, and turn it into a routine, a habit. Start small and keep it growing. These are my 2 cents.

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