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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

News: oluvsgadgets.net and speaker comparison tool (beta)

Dear readers&friends,

Maybe some have already noticed, but oluvsgadgets is now reachable through its own domain:

http://www.oluvsgadgets.net/

I would also like to give my trusty readers the ability to try out my speaker comparison tool.
There is still some work to be done with this speaker audio database, but many will hopefully appreciate the ability to test it already now in an unfinished state. There are some bugs, and some features like "real volume" is not working properly yet, as well as "volume guide". The tutorial links at the top "how to use the tool" and details about the "recording setup" are also just placeholders so far and when everything is finished there will be an introduction video published on Youtube to make it really official.

There are currently more than 30 different speakers added, I also have measurements for nearly all of these speakers, but I have to edit and prepare them first before being able to add them to the database. I will also work on the description for each speaker, but as I am continuously adding more and more speakers (next will be the Marshall Kilburn for example and the JBL Xtreme shortly after), I have little time to work on all the small details now, therefore I would like you to try everything out as is.
The tool only works on desktop systems so far, as there seems to be a limitation with Android and iOS which are not able to play 2 videos simultaneously.

I hope you will enjoy it, feel free to play with it. I am not really sure yet, how good the tool will work and how much acceptance it will gain. But I hope it will become helpful at some point.

Here you go:

http://switcher.oluvsgadgets.net/


yours, Oluv

14 comments:

  1. Wowo man, thank you soooooooooooooo much, you are a king of portable speakers!!! The page is amazing and really thanks for your hard work!!!!!!!! mike

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  2. Works flawlessly on Android, with Chrome browser :) Thanks for your hard work!

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  3. Works flawlessly on Android, with Chrome browser :) Thanks for your hard work!

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  4. Very impressive! It's obvious the amount of hard work you've put into this and the result looks great already, even if it's not finished yet. I will check it better once I get home, but for now I can also confirm that it is working on Chrome in my Android phone.
    Thank you a lot for this, I'm sure it will become a point of reference for anyone interested in acquiring a decent portable bluetooth speaker.

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  5. Will you include in your database the older speakers you've reviewed before like the pill xl? Or those speakers you didn't like, like the megaboom? :-)

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    1. i don't own them any more so it's unlikely that I will add them. a friend of mine still has the Pill XL so I might even grab that one and add it as well. he also has an iLoud, so I can include this too. but i doubt i will buy the Megaboom again.

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    2. I would also like to see the UE Megboom in there, but it would be crazy of you to spend your money on it. Maybe you'll be able to borrow one at some point. You should also consider adding the UE Boom there. I know you don't like it, but it's one of the most popular bluetooth speakers. That way you could enlighten people regarding its (lack of) sound quality. Same thing for other speakers you didn't like. It's understandable that you don't own them anymore (if you didn't like them, why would you, right?), but adding them to the database would be very useful, so, again, maybe you can borrow a few of them, eventually.

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    3. I would like to add the megaboom and boom of course, but especially around these models there is so much fanboyism and hype that regardless how i record them, many will complain it is wrong. if i place it with one driver towards me, people will complain that i should have turned it around, if i aim it frontally all the smart guys will tell me that the drivers project outwards. if i lay it flat they will complain it should stand, if i put it up straight, they will be telling me that it should hang or something...
      omnidirectional speakers are a bit tricky, especially recording them. if you listen to the Beoplay A2 and compare it to the Soundlink III for example, you will notice that there is much more ambience and diffuse sound around the B&O, the same goes for the Beolit 12 which even sounds as if only one stereo channel was playing, the saxophone on the first track is extremely distant, compare this to the Klipsch KMC-3 for example. The Philips BT6000 appears also rather diffuse, half of the sound is going to the back, which you will then hear as diffuse room-reflection.

      When I can grab one of the UE-stuff again, I will try to add them for sure, it is just not my main goal now.
      The other problem of this tool is that it just a snapshot of 1 particular volume level. I also wanted to discuss this in detail when I will publish it officially. but many portable speakers tend to sound different at high and at low levels, i wanted to find a most representative loudness level, which gives you a comfortable listening volume. now many speakers can already be close to their limit at this level sounding worse than they would at a lower level, other speakers just start sounding good at this level, while rather sound unimpressive at lower levels. I cannot show these differences unfortunately. a UE Boom will sound like a fart at low levels, even compared to a Denon Envaya Mini, but with the Denon cranked to the maximum, the UE Boom might even sound better... you get the problem?
      Therefore I also added an own maximum volume part, to give you the idea how big the differences in loudness is between different speakers, but also if they are usable at all at their maximum volume, or if distortion is ruining it. try listening to the Tivoli at maximum volume, it would play even pretty loud, but is unsable.

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    4. I have noticed the comments on your UE Boom YouTube videos, and I have to say they're quite amusing, but I'm sure they annoy the hell out of you. It's like they're never happy with the way you record its sound... I was going to write something like "that way you could enlighten the UE Boom fanboys regarding its (lack of) sound quality", but I didn't want to start any flamewars, eheh! I personally wouldn't buy one (though I love the UE Boom's design), I'm currently very interested in the JBL Charge 2, but waiting for your JBL Xtreme and RIVA S reviews before taking the plunge. Still, one cannot disregard the fact that the UE Boom is massively popular, so it definitely deserves a spot in your database. Hopefully, it will then help more people realize that there are better offers at the same price, or even lower. Same thing applies for crappy expensive speakers, your database should (if possible) warn potential buyers about those (like you did with the Jawbone Jambox).

      From your YouTube videos I've also noticed that the sound quality of a speaker can change dramatically from lower to higher levels, so I do understand how that must be complicated for someone who's building a portable bluetooth speakers database. For example, I love how the Charge 2 still retains quite a nice sound at the highest volume, but it's disappointing to hear the SoundLink Mini failing at that. Both the Sony SRS-X33 and X55 sound lovely at low volume levels, but they're easily forgettable at a higher volume. So, volume setting does represent an obstacle when comparing speakers. I guess that recording them at an average listening level (as subjective as that may be) would be the best (though not the most accurate) solution. Recording sound samples from both low and highest volume settings would give us a much better impression of how a certain speaker performs, but I understand that's something very time consuming and most likely complex to implement into the database. Nonetheless, one should expect that most people will have their speakers set for an average volume level at most times. An easier alternative solution would be for you to record them all at average listening levels but mentioning in the notes section any particularities regarding the speakers performance at both low and high volume levels. We'd just have to take your word for it ;)

      Regardless of the difficulties you have encountered thus far, your database may already be one of the finest and most helpful comparison tools (if not the only one) available for anyone interested in getting a decent portable bluetooth speaker.

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    5. I just tried your comparison tool and it worked great (Win 8.1, Firefox 38). Kudos for all your hard work and your great insights. It is a testament for your work and determination that I am still coming to your site, although I have done my purchase for the forseeable future (first Envaya Mini but then Charge 2 after the issues were resolved).

      One thing that comes to mind, after I have read what you and kinky wrote. One way to make the performance more comparable would be to give us the volume level that corresponds to your "average" setting. Even if just to determine how much headroom a player has left or to see how hard this level might already be on battery life. You did this in your comparison videos on youtube and I quite liked to see, how far up the speakeres were to put out the same volume.
      I know that there remains the problem that volume steps might not be linear. But it would at least be an indication. You could even say: volume step x of y - approximately ZZ% of max volume (the latter value being your personal estimate).

      One thing for later versions would be an off axis comparison. As players lose fidelity to different degrees when listened off axis, this would be very intersting for everyone, who doesn't just sit right in front of their speaker (partys or just moving around the room while listening). Your tool allows to put the same speaker in both players already, so we could even compare a speaker's frontal performance to its off axis performance. Neat, wouldn't it be?
      To roll this out bit by bit, you could just grey this option out for players, that don't have the corresponding recording, yet (when you start adding it). This would also give those "360 degree" speakers a place to shine. You could also limit the off axis comparison to a single track, to keep this manageble for you.

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    6. I have indeed exact values for the standard volume for nearly all speakers. But of course only for those, where I can actually read a specific value or step. This information will be added to the notes later... For example the Denon Envaya Mini is playing at volume step 67, the JBL Charge 2 at volume step 8, you can try if sitting 1 meter away from the speakers will give you a satisfying loudness level. In reality this is not very loud, but nevertheless most of these are already distorting with some tracks at this level, including the Beoplay A2, where you can easily hear the distortion of the kick-drum in the house track.

      Regarding the other ideas, I thought about each of these aspects, but wanted to keep my final setup as quick and simple as possible. It is already too time consuming now to finish one single speaker. Everything including preparation, volume-match, post editing etc, can take up to one hour, assumed the recording was ok so that I do not need to repeat it again, but in case i breathe too loud, or that i cannot resist to swallow or some loud motorbike passes by, i have to repeat it and everything can take quite long. this is a dreary process all together, repeating it for the same speakers from various angles would probably kill me. if i got paid for that I could of course try something, but the effort is just too much.
      For all other aspects I wanted to use the notes field as well, write down if the speaker sounds full-bodied at low levels or thin etc. I also had further ideas to improve browsing between all the speakers if they should become more than 100 once. I wanted to add a filter for various types like portable/stationary etc, I also wanted to add an own user-rating so that any user can vote for his favorite in order to be able to sort the list after positive votes. these are all options still possible for some future update, i am just not sure if i will have enough resources for that.
      everything depends how much acknowledgment this will generate. I am doing this in my spare time and the only income i get from that is from the ads, although I am pretty sure many will have some kind of ad-blocker active, so it would not generate any income at all.

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  6. Hello oluv,

    I tried your newly sound comparison tool. First, I tried JBL Charge 2 in player 1, then UE Mini Boom in 2nd player, then i click play button. It functioned properly.
    Then, I decided to change the item in player #2 with the original recording, without pressing stop button. Then suddenly, the video of the player #2(the original recording) starts to play like crazy(its like refreshing always, of blinking or something). And the video will not play for both of the players.

    Just a comment for beta release.

    Regards, and thank you for these.

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    1. thanks for the feedback. there can be several reasons for the problem you mentioned. so far original recording is only placeholder and just covers the standard volume part but no maximum volume, so it is shorter than all the other recordings, i have to fix that, maybe therefore the sync algorithm got confused. if you have problems with sync you can also try disabling automatic syncing, you can always resync manually with the play-button again, in case both players become out of sync. on slow internet connections i found it worked better with auto sync on, with fast connections it should also work without well. most of the time the players can get out of sync if the user is switching between different recordings often, then one player may not start immediately, while the other one is already playing. auto sync should fix this and checks if both players are more than 2 seconds apart, it will try to resync.

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    2. I forgot to mention another very important source of income: the donations from all of you, which I really have to thank again.
      I am not getting rich with this, but all the money donated so far managed to cover a part of the costs for the JBL Xtreme speaker that I ordered.

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