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MartinLogan Mikros 90 Refrence On-Ear Headphones, Black
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

2 out of 5 eggs Unimpressive. Not Recommended 09/12/2013

This review is from: MartinLogan Mikros 90 Refrence On-Ear Headphones, Black

Pros: Their appearance may impress your friends and relatives.

Cons: WAY Overpriced, even at the Egg's recent Shell Shocker level.

Very tight on my head (which far as I know is ordinary in size). Impossible to use glasses with these due to clamping force. You could use these to glue-up carpentry projects. They'd actually work better for that than they do in my system. (see below)

The sound. It's not materially better than a pair of 30 year old mid-priced Sennheiser phones I have. Blah. Move along, nothing to hear here. (And this is when being driven by a Cambridge Audio DM+ DAC/Headphone amp.) Definitely does NOT in ANY way justify the ridiculous $300 list price of these things. I guess since they're aimed at Apple users, M-L figures that you'll pay X for a mediocre product actually worth X/5.

Compatibility. POOR. They weasel-word their way around this. What they should say is "THESE ARE INTENDED FOR THOSE AMONG YOU ALREADY INFECTED WITH APPLE PRODUCTS". The problem lies in the four-conductor wire. From what I could deduce from the sound effects, the ONLY way to make them work with a non-Apple gear is to depress the middle switch. The effect is like the two transducers are in series without that switch depressed. And it doesn't lock, you have to HOLD it. At least the knuckleheads at M-L should supply a conventional cord that fits the earpiece and avoids the Apple-specific features. Oddly, they DO supply a 1/8" to 1/4" TRS converter, but as you might have guessed, it doesn't fit into the earpiece. You're still stuck with the four-conductor wire/switch/mike small diameter wire.

Workaround the switch problem. It appears that they may, I repeat MAY, work with an ordinary 1/8" TRS headphone cable. But there's a catch: the geniuses at M-L designed the housing such that any plug must have a diameter less than 6.45mm. Just try to find one of those! I have some 1/8" TRS extensions around that I'm going to try to cut down to fit. But YOU WILL HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THIS.

Bottom line: Unless you have fallen for the Apple line, AVOID THESE. They are far more trouble than they are worth.

Other Thoughts: Headphones ought to be simple to use. These are anything but. M-L COULD have made them universal, but chose to make life difficult for non-Apple owners. I'm very close to tossing them into a corner and forgetting about them. This experience has been excessively frustrating, when it should have been plug-in simple, thanks to M-L's lack of forethought.

Seagate Momentus XT ST750LX003 750GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache 2.5
  • Owned For: more than 1 year

Pros: I have one of these that came OEM in a notebook computer. Took it out before booting the first time and replaced it with an M4, so it never saw service in a portable environment. Anyway, it now lives in a small HTPC where it works just great. The caching in the drive produces excellent Win 7 boot times -- 14 seconds from button push to desktop. That's faster than some other, similar, systems I have that have SSDs in them. I wish there was some reliable way to measure the read speed for cached data, but all I can say is that it's FAST based on this system's behavior. For cached data, it's as fast as the best of SSDs.

Otherwise, it seems to be behaving well. There's only minimal bearing noise. No vibration. No actuator/head noise. Very little apparent power draw, judging by the temperature rise in the case, which is only a few degrees C.

Given the downgrade in platter speed (7200 to 5400 which will visibly affect write speed) and the cache type (SLC to MLC, which, all things equal, will result in shorter cache hardware lifetime) in the newer drives, I'd still recommend this one, even at its lower capacity and higher price.

Cons: None that I've encountered.

Other Thoughts: You might wonder why use a mechanical drive in a HTPC instead of a garden-variety SSD. Because of streaming Flash content. Under some conditions, and I'm not sure what they are exactly, Flash insists on writing a temporary buffer file during streaming which can easily amount to 5GB written to the ~250MB file in a four hour period. This is not the best thing to do to an SSD. But it's perfect for a hybrid drive where the writes don't matter and the entire temp file is cached. Works great. And the 8GB cache is still large enough to retain all the files needed for booting and most applications. All in all, it's an excellent choice for this application. I'm very pleased with its performance.

Based on a sample of one, I would not hesitate to buy more where the application suits the use of a mechanical drive.

ASRock B85M-ITX LGA 1150 Intel B85 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Mini ITX Intel Motherboard
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: 1 month to 1 year

5 out of 5 eggs Another good board from ASRock 08/23/2013

This review is from: ASRock B85M-ITX LGA 1150 Intel B85 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Mini ITX Intel Motherboard

Pros: Mini-ITX. Haswell. Runs at very low power (14W at the mains using a Pico PSU) with i5-4570S at Auto settings. (Actually, with the B85 chipset, "Auto" is about all you get.) That notwithstanding, performs beyond expensive high-tweak boards of just a few years ago, all at under 45W, worst case. Onboard graphics with three-monitor capability.

Board layout is okay for all ITX cases I'm aware of.

Four-pin PWM fan headers for processor and case fan. High-resolution fan control built right into BIOS eliminating need for fan control junkware in OS.

ASRock has been on a roll lately. Their boards have been delivering excellent price/performance with very few issues. Their BIOS design is clear, intuitive, and very easy to navigate.

Cons: ASRock customer support leaves something to be desired. Asus, for example, has a company-supported forum with employees providing customer support. ASRock is taking the cheap way out by offering .... nothing. They have apparently made some arrangement with a couple of sites to host ASRock forums, but there's no official presence, and there's no clear path to problem resolution there. That's not the fault of this board, of course, but it IS a problem with ASRock that buyers may want to take into account. On the other hand, I've bought a stack of ASRock boards lately and have had 0 issues except the minor one I mention below.

Other Thoughts: Realize that this is built around the B85 chipset so there are limitations on what you can do with it. For instance, it would be a poor choice to pair this up with a xxxxK unlocked processor since it doesn't support the unlocked multiplier and Intel has already announced that the "Non-Z OC" is going to be disabled in microcode (July '13). For typical Mini-ITX applications, the extra power just isn't necessary.

As of August '13, there appears to be a bug in the BIOS (1.4) that prevents all four cores from running at full Turbo Boost simultaneously. Regardless, CPUMark with i5-4570S comes in at a respectable 7185. Without the bug, it would score around 7800.


Steven R.'s Profile

Display Name: Steven R.

Date Joined: 09/28/02


  • Top 1000 Reviewer
  • Reviews: 82
  • Helpfulness: 53
  • First Review: 10/02/03
  • Last Review: 09/12/13
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