How To Discover Quality Content In YouTube!

How To Discover Quality Content In YouTube! 

~a step-by-step SwamyView guide

You most certainly know what YouTube is, don’t ya! If not, which planet are you from, eh?

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Anyway, whenever you watch a(ny) video on YouTube, it’ll keep pumping new video recommendations your way. And you may be thinking how kind of it to help you view more content. But, if you’ve not turned ‘auto play‘ off (which you should, btw), then soon you’ll discover that time actually flies and you’ve ended up watching more crap than you actually intended to, on any given day. And you’ll also realise, eventually, that a sizeable chunk of the data pie too has been bitten away, since video consumes more data than audio or text. To your horror, you’ll also end up finding out (late, usually) that playing better quality video (determined by YouTube itself, based on the device, screen resolution, bandwidth, etc. – this can be changed by the viewer though) turns YouTube into a ravenous beast, whose appetite for data is practically unlimited. 

YST #1: Turn the ‘auto play’ feature off. It’s not there to help you, but to just gobble up your data. You pay for data and you should decide how to use it, not an App! 

The automatic recommendation by content platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, etc. all seem to work based on pushing more ‘popular‘ content that use well known tricks of the trade such as click-bait (e.g.: “Don’t buy xyz phone before watching this video!”, “My last review!”) than ‘quality‘ content. In fact, no social media platform is really concerned about quality of content at all. All of them want more clicks from users, so they can overlay more advertisements and make more money through that. ‘Quality be damned,’ is their தாரக மந்திரம் apparently! 

Swamy’s use of YouTube is for a specific purpose – to watch reviews of all kinds of products and listen to spiritual discourses. Other than that, there’ll be an occasional movie trailer or a funny (only sometimes) talk show (only in English, of course). And some hi-res audio, which is kind of odd for a visual platform such as YouTube. That’s about it. And Swamy always keeps the ‘auto play’ off and never pays attention to click-baits. 

So, as you may’ve already experienced, the YouTube algorithm keeps pushing tonnes of content, much of it just crap (goes without saying, since even you and I can start a channel and publish crap, err.. content, any day), loosely related to (but not necessarily ‘relevant’) whatever you are watching. Here’s a hilarious (also exasperating) example, which is useful to learn how to avoid the auto-recommendation trap and discover quality content that you can actually enjoy.

YST #2: Never press the ‘bell icon’ for any channel, unless you are obsessed with hearing the notification tone or seeing the notification light all day.
Every channel will remind / beg you to press the bell icon, in every video posted, but don’t do that, ever – even if you are afflicted by OCD! 

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Upon launching YouTube on Chrome or Brave on your laptop or the App on your phone (Swamy’s not a big fan of the fruit company’s uber-expensive products anymore, though he does admire their build quality while simultaneously seething about their ‘I won’t play ball with anyone but my kind’ walled-garden approach, simply because he can’t afford most of it – including the atrociously expensive accessories. So his laptop is a reliable Dell – at least it doesn’t look ‘industrial’ anymore, heh.. heh.. – running Windows 10 and phone is a capable midrange Huawei Mate 20), you will land in the ‘recommended‘ page, loaded with a ton of content. While some may be relevant to what you watch regularly, there will be a lot that won’t be. And much of that won’t even be from the channels you have subscribed to, which may already be a handful. 

So what does Swamy do to find quality content he prefers to watch? Here’s Swamy’s step-by-step guide on “How To Discover Quality Content On YouTube!” 

Step 1: When launching YouTube – either the app on your phone or in your laptop browser – it’ll show the ‘home‘ screen with ‘recommended‘ videos, i.e., whatever it thinks would be of interest to you. Just ignore it entirely. YouTube doesn’t know you personally. But you do (hopefully!). So, respect yourself and go to Step 2 instead.

Step 2: If you like to stick to content from known sources, then simply click on ‘subscriptions.‘ That’ll reload the page with fresh (and not so) content from only the channels that you’ve already subscribed to. Now you can pick and choose which ones you would like to watch (Swamy usually uses the ‘right click’ or ‘ctrl + click’ to play a video in a new tab, so the subscribed channel videos remain available in the first tab, for browsing).

Oh, if you’ve not turned the ‘auto play‘ option off, then YouTube will shamelessly resort to its shenanigans and keep automatically playing related content (according to it), which you may find to be not relevant. So, turn the ‘auto play’ off right away, if you haven’t done so already.

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Step 3: If you want to really explore the ocean of content in YouTube, you can actually search for something specific. But before you do so, remember that YouTube is owned by the same company that’s the default search engine to find anything, for possibly 80% of web users, at least, worldwide. So instead of searching for something generic like ‘audio review‘ (which Swamy did just to see what kind of content it sources), be specific (e.g.: ‘hi-res audio headphone review‘) and use the known Google search tips & tricks to refine your search (e.g.: “wireless IEM” + “hi-res” – both terms within quotes).

YST #3: Sharpen your ‘text’ search capabilities to find near-accurate results, even for finding visual content like video. It’s the most effective way, since both YouTube (the app / video content service provider) and Google (the default Search engine for pretty much all Homo Sapiens) are owned by the same company – Alphabet Inc. 

Here’s what the aforementioned 3 searches (and one more) actually found on YouTube…

1) search for audio review ~ several product reviews from a specific channel (Z Reviews ~ subscribed), quite a few videos from a variety of audio product review channels (unsubscribed, unsurprisingly), audio review of movie soundtracks (unsubscribed, obviously), audio reviews from popular tech reviewers (many, subscribed), home page link of a popular audio review channel (Jim’s Review Room ~ subscribed), Telugu movie audio reviews (this is bonkers, considering Swamy hasn’t even watched a single Telugu movie trailer till date, and hasn’t ever searched for any Telugu content – no offence to any Telugu lover from Andhra or Telangana, but seriously “எனக்கு ஒரு உண்மை தெரிஞ்சாகணும் ~ உங்க ரெண்டு பேருக்கும் அப்படி என்னண்ணே வித்தியாசம்!”), it’s just that Swamy isn’t conversant in that language, just as he isn’t in Swahili or Tulu), and so on and so forth…

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2) search for hi res audio review ~ a mix of hi-res audio product reviews and information videos (e.g.: ‘what is hi-res audio?’), from a mix of subscribed and unsubscribed sources. While certainly a tad more refined than the previous search, this still was a hit-and-miss, from preferred content perspective.

YST #4: Whenever your search results point to a new channel that you haven’t explored before, instead of blindly subscribing to it like an automaton, go to the home page of that channel and click on ‘videos.’ This will show the entire list of videos published in that channel. Pick and choose a few randomly and watch them first. That’ll give you an idea about the quality and variety of content, presenter’s communication style and clarity, etc., which will help you decide about subscription. Remember, though the YouTube platform is free of cost, the content provider, i.e. channel owner should still earn your subscription. So, the choice is always yours. Use that power carefully and intelligently.

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3) search for “wireless IEM” + “hi res” (both search terms within double quotes) ~ surprisingly, despite being very specific, this search wasn’t getting the results Swamy expected. What was listed included at least 50% crap (haven’t checked all of them though, so that’s an avoidable harsh judgement), including some ‘over the ear headphone’ reviews, which is entirely different from IEM (in-ear monitor) earphones. Also, this didn’t bring up even a single review from any of the popular audio review channels like Jim’s Review Room (highly recommended) or Z Reviews (recommended of course, but his style – both visual and aural – may not be to everyone’s taste) – which Swamy has already subscribed to. Also, the search results was a finite list. What the..! Perplexed, the search was further refined thus…

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4) search for “wireless IEM headphones” + hi res + review ~ at last, this search yielded results that are in line with Swamy’s expectations, though, surprisingly – again, apart from a few videos from Jim’s Review Room, some of the already subscribed channels were completely missing in action (despite them having a bunch of IEM reviews). And, to confound matters further, this search yielded a finite set of results, i.e. fixed number of videos, not thousands, which is quite strange for a search engine. Hmmm, that was unexpected, considering how much content on IEMs alone is there on YouTube and the search engine was none other than the Bi’G’ itself!

YST #5: Keep your mouse cursor as far away from the ‘Trending’ section as possible. That’s the path strewn with piles of ‘popular’ content crap, which has absolutely no relevance whatsoever to the viewer’s interest or taste. It’s also YouTube’s way of showing your place entrenched in the herd, most certainly based on your ‘location’.

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Anyway, with the approach detailed above, you would’ve got an idea of how to look for content that may actually be of interest to you, instead of watching content that’s pushed your way by YouTube. The reward for resorting to this slightly laborious – and seemingly antiquated (you can search using voice too) – process of discovering quality content is the addition of two new subscriptions in Swamy’s list – both European (which is preferred over those from the other side of the atlantic, any day). 

Note: YouTube promo algorithm hasn’t popped up any of these channels so far, ever, amply demonstrating its willful ignorance of the interests of the user. 

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The first discovery is John Darko, a no-nonsense review channel of audio products with fantastic visual and audio presentation ( https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQIcXQ2n0sa-7CD0NtqnrrA/videos). Though he identifies himself repeatedly as an Audiophile, he’s quite unpretentious and astoundingly humble, which instantly endeared Mr. Darko to Swamy, who is known to enjoy high quality audio and the gadgets (relatively affordable ones only, needless to say) that help one really enjoy such enchanting sounds of exquisite quality. 

Enjoy reading the Swamusings blog
Treading (with caution) into Audiophile Territory!” here.
https://prakashswamy.wordpress.com/2019/10/22/swamusings-treading-with-caution-into-audiophile-territory/ 

The other discovery is The Hans Beekhuyzen Channel, a somewhat pedagogical, yet extremely informative channel about all things audio ( https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCR4tuhqPppVp-PD0q17sPEA/videos ). You’ll need patience for this one, but such patience shall be rewarded with a treasure trove of information, and knowledge.
And if you’re into comprehensible and interesting pedagogy, then Gary Explains is an enchanting channel to gain knowledge.

Oh and there was the discovery of Super* Review  too, which is kinda standard template american tech review channel, but focused on audio products ( https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLt1ZCWX6QCDWVUElrY5_qA/videos). This one will be more of a try a few videos and then decide kind of subscription though, considering Swamy has already subscribed to
Jim’s Review Room ( https://www.youtube.com/user/JimsReviewRoom/videos),
Juan Bagnell ( https://www.youtube.com/user/JuanBagnell/videos),
Z Reviews https://www.youtube.com/user/ZeosReviews,
PS Audio https://www.youtube.com/user/sharanelani and 
Bubvisuals https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8VgY3KgTajAdjj26Ei_8rA
and the like, which offer high-quality audio review content already.

‘The more the merrier’ doesn’t really ‘sound good’ (pun obviously intended), when it comes to quality audio product reviews, but the search for quality will continue unabated, as far as Swamy is concerned. 

YST #5: Avoid watching all videos (new or otherwise) in any subscribed channel,
or all new videos listed in the ‘subscription’ page, or all videos about a particular product or service. They are all – avoidable – time and data traps. 

Btw, Swamy is yet to come across any Indian channel that’s focused on audio alone. A number of Indian reviewers still try hard to be copycats of the popular american review channels (right from props to lighting to chatty communication style to annoying bgm – every damn thing is replicated, as-is), and most of them limit themselves to phone and related accessories review alone. That is a pity, since some of them are quite good (e.g. Beebom, RevAtlas, Gogitech, Techwiser, தமிழ்Tech, iGyaan, Trakin Tech), endowed with the ability to position themselves in a unique way and are certainly capable of reviewing whatever they choose to, pretty well. 

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It’s not entirely hopeless though. There are a few channels that do occasional audio tech reviews. This is neither the definitive ranking of reviewers nor the only list of quality focused reviewers, who also cover audio products. These are YouTube content creators whose content Swamy found enjoyable and useful (and not annoying)! That’s all. The list actually gets much better when it comes to focused domains of review such as photography equipment and automobiles. But that list belongs to a different blog post.

Mr.Phone is an Indian channel that  offers an occasional audio product review (the primary reviewer is a burly, affable தமிழன்), whose videos are of fantastic quality. 

TechReflex is also another Indian channel with a bunch of audio product reviews, with some potential for a better future (the reviewer is quite young, resembles Swamy Jr. & is most probably still an academic student). 

Gogitech too has plenty of audio product reviews, that are straightforward and brief (both very desirable and useful qualities for any discerning viewer), though most are limited to the mobile phone ecosystem. He stands out from the crowd of similar tech reviewers by the sheer volume of products he chooses to review, including a number of audio products from unknown brands, and by keeping the length of pretty much all his reviews under 5 minutes.

Geeky Ranjith mostly sticks to the standard tech reviewer template, but he’s pretty honest and straightforward with his views and reviews. And, he does actually step out of his soundproof content creation room (to his roof garden, of course), for the reviews!

Headphone Zone only does reviews occasionally, not regularly. They are an audio equipment seller and that knowledge shines through in some of the reviews.

Gizmo Gyan is primarily a tech reviewer focusing on mobiles, just like the rest. But he’s the only reviewer who has reviewed the #MakeInIndia Obage speakers, which Swamy ended up buying and still enjoying.

You can read the SwamyView of Obage DT 2425 stereo speakers here.

YST #6: There’s no dearth of content in YouTube. Quantity isn’t a problem at all and anyone can find content that’s of particular interest to her/im. But Quality is certainly a challenge, as the mix is tilted heavily towards crappy or mediocre content. Anyone with a basic cellphone with a functional camera can create content, and millions do. YouTube (or any content app / service, for that matter) is focused on quantity and not quality. They don’t care about what they want, because the exquisite nature of your interest isn’t going to generate more revenue for them. So it’s entirely up to you – the content consumer – to figure out how to separate the wheat from chaff. Learn how to!

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Anyway, that in a nutshell is how you can enjoy the part of your precious lifetime spent on watching YouTube videos, by discovering quality content yourself, than by getting entrapped by the ‘auto recommendation’ algorithm monster and fall inside the crap-filled, nauseating septic tank of content. Guess, that approach holds good for any social media platform with wily content pushing algorithms that prioritise popularity over quality! Happy searching & viewing.

Be joyful & spread the cheer 🙂

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Enjoy Swamy’s content on Social Media

 

 

 

Rambo – Last Blood ~ a fitting conclusion to the solo warrior action series!

“Rambo – Last Blood” ~ a fitting tribute to the glorious solo warrior action series, that started with “First Blood”, which I saw in a theatre in Ramanathapuram, when I was in X standard (grade!). Had been a fan ever since & have watched all the Rambo movies, multiple times.

Alongside “Rocky”, this had been another long running series of one-man-demolition-squad action films helmed by Sylvester ‘Sly’ Stallone, who ruled the Hollywood box office along with Arnold ‘Arnie’ Schwarzenegger in the ’80s & ’90s. Though Arnie too has starred, again, as the venerable Terminator in a recent release “Terminator – Dark Fate”, of the long running Terminator series, Sly had more such series under his massive belt, including “The Expendables” and “Escape Plan.”

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The action heroes of #MeraBharatMahan – especially the younger lot – will do well to learn from these masters of action, by watching their respective series of movies, who practically ruled the genre for decades, especially the ’80s &’90s, and are still around doing what they do best – destroy the bad guys, single-handedly.

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In ‘Rambo – Last Blood’ Sly plays his age. He even has an adopted family, which becomes the cause of him exploding into the relentless action, filled with mayhem, with a generous sprinkling of creative kills. But all of that happens only in the third act, by the end of which, unsurprisingly, Rambo is the only one alive.

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Here, for a change, Rambo has actually settled down in his farmhouse in Arizona and genuinely cares for people – at least two (a grandmother & her grand daughter, who Rambo brings up as his own daughter), horses and even takes medication to keep the lid on the beast within. The adopted daughter goes to Mexico to see her real father (who disowns & disappoints her – something Rambo warns her about), despite Rambo’s caution & grandmother’s chiding. There, she gets betrayed by a friend and ends up in a cartel that’s into drugs and human trafficking.

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Rambo bursts into the scene, gets beaten up pretty badly by the bad guys, gets rescued by some random woman (whose sister too was abducted, abused and killed by the cartel), recovers, finds his adopted daughter, who dies due to the drug overdose (induced by the cartel) and physical abuse, enroute to home. So, Rambo buries her, sends off the grandmother (and horses) to safety, and prepares for war, in his own underground lair (beneath the home).

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He goes to Mexico once again, meets his rescuer, with her help finds and then kills a few cartel henchmen single-handedly (with his trademark knife), which brings the entire cartel to his place in Arizona, baying for blood. But they’ve no idea about the hornet’s nest they are about to disturb. It’s going to sting, hard, and none of them are capable of surviving that.

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And that’s when the mayhem unfolds, in signature Rambo style. He basically kills every single member of the cartel, inside the tunnels under his home, leaving just the villain stranded in the end, to face him one-on-one. The climax is truly the icing on the cake, though in a particularly gruesome way – Rambo basically pins down the cartel head villain with 4 accurately launched arrows from his well known bow (it starred in all the Rambo movies, along with the knife), cuts his chest with his knife, plucks out his heart with his bare hands and actually shows it to the villain before he dies in utter agony. Then he rides off into the sunset, on a horse, no less, alone.

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Is it really ciao for Rambo, whose mere mention will inevitably make the bad guys pee in their pants? One never knows, since he’s still alive and there are plenty of bad guys still around, doing all kinds of evil things, waiting to die a gory death in his hands. Nevertheless, this will certainly be a glorious conclusion to the series that stands out for its unique military style relentless one-man action, where only one man stands in the end, alive, always, with fans still rooting for him all the way. And that man’s name is Rambo… John Rambo!

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Oh btw, if you are the kind of patient fan who waits till the end credits roll, though there are no teasers like the Marvel movies, there’s a fantastic montage of Rambo from all the movies in the series.

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

Obage DT-2425 Stereo Speakers!

Obage is an impressive ‘MakeInIndia‘ brand / manufacturer of high quality audio systems that are affordable too.
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Obage DT-2425 is yet another surprise ‘MakeInIndia‘ product (like ‘Signature Acoustics). The build quality, functionality and sound quality are surprisingly impressive for its price.

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Though I’ve purchased this pair of speakers primarily for watching video content such as Movies and YouTube reviews on the 4K TV + Amazon FireTV Stick 4K combo, they’re also pretty good for listening to stereo audio (music, speech).

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The elegant yet rugged looking build quality of Obage DT-2425 gives confidence for a long shelf life. The remote is lightweight and functional.

The inputs include line-in via standard RCA cable, 3.5mm Aux and Bluetooth (version unknown). Digital inputs such as optical & HDMI will be useful but are not present in this model.

While the speaker has separate knobs for volume, treble and bass, the remote has only the volume control buttons, along with Mode (Line-in, Bluetooth, FM) and EQ (multiple options for different types of audio).

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Obage DT-2425 is certainly not for the typical bassy loud sound lovers. But it’s certainly recommended for those who prefer sound clarity, along with a reasonable amount of loudness.

The dialogs in movies can be heard clearly, while the bgm can also be experienced without any distortion, even at the highest volume setting (only up to 32, which could be more, considering the 70 Watts RMS claim).

Similarly, in YouTube videos with both voice (of the reviewer/presnter) and music (typically context-less copyright free music, pointlessly added simply becauseeveryone else also do it‘), the track / stereo separation is clearly heard.

In terms of bass, it has certainly got the thump but not the overwhelming boom of a separate sub woofer, which is acceptable for the fantastic price.

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I’ve tried playing the TV audio, Amazon FireTV stick 4K audio, laptop audio and audio from my android phone – all using Bluetooth connectivity. The audio quality is impressive in all the cases.

For movies, higher volume levels is desirable, but the speakers are limited to only 32, which is sufficient for YouTube videos and music though. The line-in via RCA cable isn’t even as loud as audio via Bluetooth, so isn’t of much use. The audio via 3.5mn audio jack is pretty impressive though. The Equaliser does not work with line-in options and can be changed only when the audio source is Bluetooth.

Overall, Obage DT-2425 is a great choice for audio lovers, who desire better quality audio but can’t afford audiophile quality brands/products. Highly recommended by Swamy, who too belongs to that category of audio connoisseurs.

Kudos to Obage for making such high quality, yet affordable ‘MakeInIndia‘ audio products and Amazon for bringing it to customers who may’ve never heard about the brand (until now that is ;)!

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

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Amazon Product link

OBAGE DT-2425 Dual Tower Multimedia Speaker System(Black) with Bluetooth,USB, Double Aux, FM,MMC https://www.amazon.in/dp/B07DQGV1Q4/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_venCDbW9KY0ZF

Is Traditional Movie-Making Dead!

Is Traditional Movie-Making Dead!

~a Swamusings post

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Superhero blockbuster fatigue is real and the mad mad mad fans need some urgent intervention to recover. 😵
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What better way for a movie buff to get refreshed than to watch a couple of movies that are the polar opposite of blockbusters ~ true-to-life (as much as cinematically possible), slow paced (sometimes excruciatingly so), believable (absolutely no sfx aided saving the world) and totally eye-sockets and ear-drum (and thinking brain – needless to say) safe… 😂
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Swamy, a long time hollywood movie watcher (not just blockbusters, but any genre – once upon a time, he used to watch one movie every weekend, often cycling to theatres 🚵🏼♀), recently watched not one but two (quite a few, actually, but two are certainly worth a mention) non-blockbuster movies – English only, of course – with no superheroes (as a matter of fact, not even a hero) whatsoever. In fact, there were only a handful of characters in both movies and the story (yeah, it used to be a thing, way before the sfx superheroes arrived with a bang, negating the need for even an outline of a story 🤦🏻♀) is anchored around them.
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Both movies have top-notch talent on board, of course, yet steer clear of any clichéd heroics. At the same time, they also manage to keep the viewer hooked, till the very end, with fantastic production quality.
Try these two gems of modern movies – Arctic and Cop Car when you get a chance.👍
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Arctic‘ stars the venerable Mads Mickelson (remember the bleeding-eye Bond villain!) as a lone scientist stuck in, well arctic where else, after a plane accident, figuring out how to survive, on a day-to-day basis, until the rescue team arrives (it’s a big ‘if’). So, for most part of the movie, it’s just him and the unforgiving + unrelenting icy arctic environment. Refreshingly, despite the seemingly insurmountable odds, he never gives up and meticulously goes about living, one day at a time…
Cop Car‘, starring the chameleon-like Kevin Bacon, who has been starring in movies – both blockbuster type and the oddball indies – like forever, turns the generally fear-inducing (even more so in the present racially charged political mindscape) Cop Car (no surprises there, heh.. heh.., what, you didn’t see that coming!) on its head, yet keeping the entire movie anchored around and in it.
While you may not like these (kind of) movies right away, especially if you are one of those forever delirious superhero blockbuster fans, do watch both till the end (they aren’t that long). Unfailingly, they’ll show you that real craft of movie-making is still alive and kicking, even in these billion dollar blockbuster days. 👌
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So, the answer to ‘Is traditional movie-making dead?‘ is a resounding NO, if the diehard movie fans know where to look for, ummm, normal yet enchanting movies!

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P.S.1: The countless books Swamy had read and the numerous movies he watched, during his youth (despite growing up in a city-town and not a metropolitan city), are significant contributors to his linguistic prowess, if there’s such a thing. Whenever he used to tell many that மாப்பிள்ளை விநாயகர் / MaappiLLai VinhAyagar theatre (it’s still around though now both the name and charm are gone) was one of his English tutors, that wasn’t meant to be a joke. Similarly, this isn’t a mere கருத்து / opinion, but an experiential sharing after all, which shouldn’t come as a surprise for a(ny) seeker!
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P.S.2: No, Swamy hasn’t watched ‘Avengers Endgame,’ (good luck catching up with Avatar, despite the re-release, ha.. ha..) yet. Nor has he any plans to see ‘Spiderman Far From Home’ anytime soon. Both can wait to be seen by Swamy, till they arrive on any of the streaming services. A retiree has to be cautious about how his meagre earnings are spent, after all!
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~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

Signature Acoustics Phoenix – Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter & Receiver

Signature Acoustics Phoenix – Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter & Receiver

~Gadget Reviews by Swamy

TV audio sucks, irrespective of how wonderful the picture is. So watching any content through it, be it streaming movies or YouTube videos (through Wi-Fi) or downloaded content (played through the USB port), feels underwhelming, since the audio, an essential part of the AV experience, sounds tinny and hollow.

While audio quality doesn’t matter that much for ravenous consumers of mere noise, i.e. those who can’t have enough of flash news played repeatedly or shout fests in the name of panel discussions or pathetic excuse for acting in the form of stale soaps, aka TV serials, that are still stuck in the last century, it’s a big bummer for those who enjoy the innumerable variety and variations of sound, which augments the visual experience. While these kind of audio connoisseurs value and enjoy high quality sound as much as audiophiles, many aren’t really wealthy audiophiles who can splurge on premium brand audio equipment, such as hi-res headphones, Dolby Atmos home theatres or even good quality 2.1 sound bars that can quench their thirst for great audio.
The alternative for such neither here nor there connoisseurs of sound – both music and movies – is the portable DAC (Digital-to-Analogue Converter, for the uninitiated), which can help them enjoy Hi-Fi audio, through their existing headphones (hopefully of good quality – preferably Hi-res), without filing for bankruptcy or skipping a meal for a few years to pay the emi for quality audio equipment. Swamy belongs to this group of ‘audio enthusiasts on a limited budget‘ and since he already eats only twice a day and certainly plans to enjoy the rest of his planned retirement without going bankrupt, he chose the ‘Signature Acoustics Phoenix Bluetooth Transmitter and Receiver,’ which lets him enjoy quality audio through the ‘Audio Technica ATH-M50X‘ over-the-ear and ‘1More Triple Driver‘ in-ear Hi-Res headphones, wirelessly!

And boy do they sound good? Of course they do. The SA Phoenix is a Bluetooth 5.0 compatible transmitter and receiver that can either be used to transmit audio from a device such as TV or music player wirelessly (that can be listened to on Bluetooth speakers or headphones) or as a Bluetooth receiver that can enable a wired speaker or headphone to become wireless. Since the Samsung 4K UHD TV can transmit audio via Bluetooth (version unknown – certainly isn’t 5.0), and both the wired headphones (AT & 1More) are already quite capable when it comes to audio quality, the primary purpose of Phoenix is as a receiver. It has Aux (obviously) and Optical Audio (surprisingly) ports – both In and Out. Wow!

Whether its an action packed movie like Rampage (Dwayne the ‘Rock’ Johnson can be really funny, despite his perennial yet natural tough-guy look, while still convincingly pummelling the beasts – human or otherwise) streaming on Amazon Prime or some old archived movie such as Predator (one of the all time best one-on-one action blockbusters of the Governator aka Arnold Schwarzenegger) or the YouTube videos of MrWhoseTheBoss (his tech review videos are obviously good but his resonant voice is even better) or the foot-tapping ‘Sound of Isha‘ track ‘Yogi Shiva Mahadev‘ to promote the upcoming 25th Mahashivarathri Festival Celebrations at the Isha Yoga Centre (near Coimbatore) or the few free uncompressed hi-res music audio (or audio+video) FLAC files that can be found here and there, the SA Phoenix infuses new life into them, especially when connected to a capable pair of cans. Its tiny size (smaller than a matchbox) belies the capability it packs and thanks to the Qualcomm CSR 8675 AptX-HD supporting chip set, it truly packs a punch. Just charge it (takes a couple of hours for full charge), pair it with an(y) Bluetooth audio source (such as a TV, laptop or smartphone) and connect it to a good quality headphone (such as ATH-M50X or 1More Triple Driver)… And all of a sudden, as one gets immersed into the enchanting space of vibrant sound, in glorious forms, myriad hues and countless variations, there isn’t any urge left to buy expensive audiophile grade equipment, anymore. At least for the time being… Heh.. Heh..
Oh btw, there’s no such thing as a perfect product. And that’s the case with a wonderful gadget like Phoenix as well.

  • A big bummer is that there’s no volume control mechanism of any kind, which pretty much any DAC from FiiO will have, for example. And the volume control in the headphone – the impressive 1More Triple Driver In-Ear, in this case – doesn’t seem to work, when connected to the SA Phoenix. And as if to rub salt on the wound, Samsung (UHD ‘Smart’ TV) too shrugs off and says “It ain’t my problem pal, go figure with your fancy Bluetooth Audio Device.” So basically, there isn’t any kind of volume control, at all, when the SA Phoenix is used as a receiver. That’s something to keep in mind, before playing movie filled with explosive action, which is pretty much any action movie ever made. Ouch!
    • Oh and one more thing… the indicator lights are so tiny that SA should consider supplying a magnifier free, along with the Phoenix (and its even smaller siblings). It’s the polar opposite of the Logitech Bluetooth receiver (which it’s replacing at SwamyHome) whose bluish glow can be clearly practically seen from anywhere in the room.
    • And one last thing – how about a clip that’ll be useful to attach it to garments. It doesn’t look pretty, nor does it feel comfortable, when hanging like a convict in an old western film!
    C’mon Signature Acoustics folks… You obviously got the right people to make great sounding (looking as well) audio gadgets (that too in my dear motherland itself), but you must certainly consider adding a couple of usability design specialists to your team as well, who can tweak the design from a user perspective. That’s when your brand recognition will be as good as (or better than) a worthy competitor such as FiiO (Swamy did consider their BT3 seriously, which supports all hi-res audio codecs, but is only a Bluetooth Receiver+DAC and can’t transmit audio).
    All said and done, Signature Acoustics Phoenix is proudly ‘Made In India,’ doesn’t require one to mortgage the house or car to buy (just Rs.2799 on Amazon – including the ubiquitous GST) and highly recommended by Swamy for anyone seeking to enjoy high quality audio, wirelessly, on a budget!

    Signature Acoustics Phoenix – Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter & Receiver

    Signature Acoustics Phoenix – Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter & Receiver

    ~Gadget Reviews by Swamy

    TV audio sucks, irrespective of how wonderful the picture is. So watching any content through it, be it streaming movies or YouTube videos (through Wi-Fi) or downloaded content (played through the USB port), feels underwhelming, since the audio, an essential part of the AV experience, sounds tinny and hollow.

    While audio quality doesn’t matter that much for ravenous consumers of mere noise, i.e. those who can’t have enough of flash news played repeatedly or shout fests in the name of panel discussions or pathetic excuse for acting in the form of stale soaps, aka TV serials, that are still stuck in the last century, it’s a big bummer for those who enjoy the innumerable variety and variations of sound, which augments the visual experience. While these kind of audio connoisseurs value and enjoy high quality sound as much as audiophiles, many aren’t really wealthy audiophiles who can splurge on premium brand audio equipment, such as hi-res headphones, Dolby Atmos home theatres or even good quality 2.1 sound bars that can quench their thirst for great audio.
    The alternative for such neither here nor there connoisseurs of sound – both music and movies – is the portable DAC (Digital-to-Analogue Converter, for the uninitiated), which can help them enjoy Hi-Fi audio, through their existing headphones (hopefully of good quality – preferably Hi-res), without filing for bankruptcy or skipping a meal for a few years to pay the emi for quality audio equipment. Swamy belongs to this group of ‘audio enthusiasts on a limited budget‘ and since he already eats only twice a day and certainly plans to enjoy the rest of his planned retirement without going bankrupt, he chose the ‘Signature Acoustics Phoenix Bluetooth Transmitter and Receiver,’ which lets him enjoy quality audio through the ‘Audio Technica ATH-M50X‘ over-the-ear and ‘1More Triple Driver‘ in-ear Hi-Res headphones, wirelessly!

    And boy do they sound good? Of course they do. The SA Phoenix is a Bluetooth 5.0 compatible transmitter and receiver that can either be used to transmit audio from a device such as TV or music player wirelessly (that can be listened to on Bluetooth speakers or headphones) or as a Bluetooth receiver that can enable a wired speaker or headphone to become wireless. Since the Samsung 4K UHD TV can transmit audio via Bluetooth (version unknown – certainly isn’t 5.0), and both the wired headphones (AT & 1More) are already quite capable when it comes to audio quality, the primary purpose of Phoenix is as a receiver. It has Aux (obviously) and Optical Audio (surprisingly) ports – both In and Out. Wow!

    Whether its an action packed movie like Rampage (Dwayne the ‘Rock’ Johnson can be really funny, despite his perennial yet natural tough-guy look, while still convincingly pummelling the beasts – human or otherwise) streaming on Amazon Prime or some old archived movie such as Predator (one of the all time best one-on-one action blockbusters of the Governator aka Arnold Schwarzenegger) or the YouTube videos of MrWhoseTheBoss (his tech review videos are obviously good but his resonant voice is even better) or the foot-tapping ‘Sound of Isha‘ track ‘Yogi Shiva Mahadev‘ to promote the upcoming 25th Mahashivarathri Festival Celebrations at the Isha Yoga Centre (near Coimbatore) or the few free uncompressed hi-res music audio (or audio+video) FLAC files that can be found here and there, the SA Phoenix infuses new life into them, especially when connected to a capable pair of cans. Its tiny size (smaller than a matchbox) belies the capability it packs and thanks to the Qualcomm CSR 8675 AptX-HD supporting chip set, it truly packs a punch. Just charge it (takes a couple of hours for full charge), pair it with an(y) Bluetooth audio source (such as a TV, laptop or smartphone) and connect it to a good quality headphone (such as ATH-M50X or 1More Triple Driver)… And all of a sudden, as one gets immersed into the enchanting space of vibrant sound, in glorious forms, myriad hues and countless variations, there isn’t any urge left to buy expensive audiophile grade equipment, anymore. At least for the time being… Heh.. Heh..
    Oh btw, there’s no such thing as a perfect product. And that’s the case with a wonderful gadget like Phoenix as well.

  • A big bummer is that there’s no volume control mechanism of any kind, which pretty much any DAC from FiiO will have, for example. And the volume control in the headphone – the impressive 1More Triple Driver In-Ear, in this case – doesn’t seem to work, when connected to the SA Phoenix. And as if to rub salt on the wound, Samsung (UHD ‘Smart’ TV) too shrugs off and says “It ain’t my problem pal, go figure with your fancy Bluetooth Audio Device.” So basically, there isn’t any kind of volume control, at all, when the SA Phoenix is used as a receiver. That’s something to keep in mind, before playing movie filled with explosive action, which is pretty much any action movie ever made. Ouch!
    • Oh and one more thing… the indicator lights are so tiny that SA should consider supplying a magnifier free, along with the Phoenix (and its even smaller siblings). It’s the polar opposite of the Logitech Bluetooth receiver (which it’s replacing at SwamyHome) whose bluish glow can be clearly practically seen from anywhere in the room.
    • And one last thing – how about a clip that’ll be useful to attach it to garments. It doesn’t look pretty, nor does it feel comfortable, when hanging like a convict in an old western film!
    C’mon Signature Acoustics folks… You obviously got the right people to make great sounding (looking as well) audio gadgets (that too in my dear motherland itself), but you must certainly consider adding a couple of usability design specialists to your team as well, who can tweak the design from a user perspective. That’s when your brand recognition will be as good as (or better than) a worthy competitor such as FiiO (Swamy did consider their BT3 seriously, which supports all hi-res audio codecs, but is only a Bluetooth Receiver+DAC and can’t transmit audio).
    All said and done, Signature Acoustics Phoenix is proudly ‘Made In India,’ doesn’t require one to mortgage the house or car to buy (just Rs.2799 on Amazon – including the ubiquitous GST) and highly recommended by Swamy for anyone seeking to enjoy high quality audio, wirelessly, on a budget!