Wannabe Audiophile – Vanatoo Transparent Zero

My biggest takeaway from the 2018 Capital Audio Fest was just how much of a spread there is between low priced high-quality speakers and the high end, crazy expensive speakers. There was one pair of speakers that really blew me away. The Vanatoo room had two pairs of speakers, the Vanatoo Transparent One Encore and the Vanatoo Transparent Zero speakers. They were a real eye-opener for me. After spending most of the day listening to speakers ranging from $4000-125,000, I walked into the Vanatoo room and after listening to their offerings, I was done. I didn’t need to listen to anything else. Both speakers were fantastic, but the one that won me over and I thoroughly enjoyed the Vanatoo Transparent Zero speakers. 

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Techie Stuff

These speakers have an integrated 48-watt channel bi-amp that will get you plenty of volume no matter how you are using it. (TV, Music, desktop, etc) These speakers could easily fill the void of a desktop speaker or fill a medium-size room with your favorite music. You can connect the analog or digital inputs to your music source or connect via Bluetooth. 

The speakers have a 4-inch aluminum woofer, tweeter, crossover, and 4” passive radiator. I will be honest with you, while I really really like these speakers, I don’t think I would use them for a desktop. I don’t know about you, but I don’t blast my desktop speakers. So I really don’t think I would see the real quality of these speakers as a desktop speaker. At the Audio show, they were really able to fill the room. I believe that’s how I would use them!

How Much??

At the Capital Audio Fest, there are all kinds of speakers, large and small, not so cheap and very expensive. Let me tell you, these speakers sound great for a very reasonable price. These may have been the cheapest speaker at the show at $359, and even more shocking was that they are available at Amazon! 

When I am ready to purchase my new set of speakers, these will definitely be on the top of my list.

Capital Audio Fest

I’m Not an Audiophile… But…

Last year my Dad and I went to the Capital Audio Fest. I had so much fun, that I wanted to go again! This year’s Capital Audio Fest was a lot bigger than last year. (At least it seemed that way to me!) Even though I wanted to go again this year, I knew I was still out of my element a bit. This audio show is really for those that consider themselves as Audiophiles. I.. am… Not. As I write this I want to make sure you know, I am NOT an audiophile. Never claimed to be. I’m not technical. Never claimed to be. I went to this Capital Audio Fest as a novice, not knowing any of the players, companies or equipment. 

Thats Dad Stuff @thatsdadstuff

Those attending these types of audio shows are looking at speakers, amplifiers and other equipment at price levels that are incomprehensible for those that don’t have a real interest in high-end audio. I’m not talking about speakers from Sony, Pioneer, LG or Acoustic Research. Brands at this show are companies like Von Schweikert Audio (just the name sounds expensive!), Valve Amplification Company, Grado, or Volti Audio.

This audio fest is really a unique experience. Imagine a large hotel, and each exhibitor has a hotel room. All furniture has been removed, and the exhibitor has 6-10 chairs set up, and the stereo playing music. In some cases, it could only be you and the exhibitor. It’s a perfect opportunity to ask the representative any questions you may have regarding their stereo equipment. 

How Much You Say??

I heard speakers that ranged in price from $500, and I thought they sounded really good. I heard $4000 speakers that didn’t sound very good. There were $20,000 speakers that sounded good, and $35,000 speakers that were amazing. My goal was to listen to the most expensive speakers I could find. Well, I accomplished my goal. I came across a pair of speakers that cost $125,000… but that doesn’t compare. In fact, that is cheap. There was a system there had a price listed at over $1.13 Million…you read that right. Here is proof.

It’s All About The Music

I’m going, to be honest with you, I have no clue about the technology being used in these expensive stereos. There is one thing that DOES makes a huge difference… the music selection. I heard a lot of Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd, and Chris Stapleton. However, some of the exhibitors put on some experimental music and frankly put, it was awful. I get it, I know why they did it. Weird sounds, odd instruments, can show the audience what the speakers can do. I’m just not a fan.

Digital Vs Vinyl

One more thing to note about the Capital Audio Fest. There are two distinct schools of thought in this world. Digital music vs Vinyl. Streaming services like Tidal, Amazon Music HD and Qobuz are targeting audiophiles with their Hi-Res streaming service. One thing I can tell you is that Vinyl is most certainly is not dead. There were numerous vendors set up at the show selling their vinyl records. Vinyl players are really expensive too. I’m leaning on the digital side. I moved all my music to my hard drive. I’m digital from here on out. 

For more in-depth coverage from real audiophiles, or from people that know this stuff better than I, check out Part-Time Audiophile and CAF2019. Enjoy some of my pictures I took from the event. I don’t know brands or anything, but they sure do look cool.

I’m a Cord Cutter, Are You?

What Started the Madness?

There is a lot of hype over being a cord cutter. A little over 2 years ago I received my Verizon Fios bill and it went up over $50. From approximately $139 to $189. So I did the normal reactionary move, and called Verizon and asked for the latest discount, or to waive the new increase. The rep said my current pricing is the best they can do for me. Meanwhile, I had in my hand an ad they mailed me that said $79.99 for TV, Phone and Internet. “That’s for new customers.” The rep claimed. So I did my usual empty threat of “I’m going to cancel and close my account” To my surprise, the rep said, OK, just one second and I’ll transfer you…. This is what started my cord-cutting experience. I’m now a Cord Cutter.

That’s Dad Stuff @thatsdadstuff

What did I do?

So I canceled Fios. Now I needed Internet. So I went with Comcast. $39.99 for 200mbps. I thought it was a pretty good deal. To my surprise, I got it installed in 5 days. It was a great price, speed was good too. My only complaint was during peak hours, the speed dropped significantly. I actually did my own speed test and numerous times it PEAKED at 10mbps during 4-8 pm. I made several calls to tech support only for them to tell me it “looks good on their end”. A tech came out and replaced my line and that only improve the Mbps only by a small percentage. So I canceled, and luckily I signed up again with Fios as a new customer and got 100/100 for $39.99. I now had a reliable internet again.  However, I thought about it and wanted to try the Gigabit service for $79.99. I tried, LOVE it, and kept it.

Let’s move on from the drama of dealing with internet providers, let talk about TV services.

A Cord Cutter’s Antenna

I know some of the services provide locals, but I live 20 miles from 2 metropolitan areas. The TV services only provide 1of the locals, not both. I love football, and I wanted both local channels. Having no clue on what kind of antenna to buy, I did buy a pair of rabbit ears, but they were worthless. I bought a widow antenna, and that was fine, it picked up the majority of the locals, but the reception was spotty. So I went to Amazon and bought this one. A 360 degree omni directional antenna with 150mile radius. (The one in the link is a newer model. The exact one I bought was only a 75mile radius.) It does look like something like the Starship Enterprise, but it’s no bigger than a dinner plate! I installed my antenna on the top of my gazebo, which attached to my deck, and wired it through some vent pipe and connected it to my TV. I now have 60 local channels. CRAZY! 

A Cord Cutter’s TV Service

I signed up with Directv Now. I got 100 channels for $35 and HBO for $5. That was a fantastic Deal. I am an ATT wireless customer so I can stream on my cell or devices for free. Which is great for my kids and car rides! However, this WAS a great deal. Since I signed up in late 2016, my price has doubled. Come December I will be paying $65 for my service. Is it worth it? Is it worth the free streaming on devices? I think the answer is no, especially if I switch to an unlimited plan. I need to check out Hulu Live TV, Youtube TV, and SlingTV. (Coming soon, I will review the one I switch to)

I already had the streaming staples, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu. Now I need to start thinking about ESPN+, Disney+, and HBO Max. Rumors out there claim that Disney will package Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu. I subscribed to Hulu for only $.99 a month for a year. ESPN+ is $4.99, but I’m not sure if the teams I watch will be on it. 

A Cord Cutter’s Pricing Break down

Is it Worth It?

Fifty bucks is Fifty bucks, but is it worth the pain and headaches of switching services? I could probably save some money on what I am paying now. I could lower the Internet speed, and I could find a new TV provider. However, with all the price increases from ATT and the increased options for streaming services you need to consider your options. One thing is for sure, with so many streaming services, and price increases by the TV providers, what was once a cost savings alternative, it’s becoming clear, it’s getting expensive to save money.

A Little Bit About Me…

Random Stuff about me…

I use “…” A LOT

I’m not a professional writer.

Go Cubs, Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks!

I love golf…The best wood in my bag is my pencil.

I love 80s music.

Amazon > any other store.

I like to sell stuff on eBay.

I collect autographs and ball cards.

I recently got my MBA.

I love a good stereo system, but I’m not an audiophile.

I’ll do anything for my kids… but I won’t pay for them to get on the crew team.

I believe… whatever you’re going through, someone is or has gone through it too.

Christian Fellowship is the key to life balance and faith. 

I like to learn about personal finance. seedtime.com is a good faith-based personal finance website. 

I have a man cave, but Barbie took it over.

That’s Dad Stuff

Bedtime Strategies #2– Plan Your Attack

Bedtime Strategies # 2 – Plan Your Attack. How often have you tried to initiate bedtime, only to be thwarted by the “I’m hungry” defense?  It’s easy to dismiss if we’re sure they ate a solid dinner, but on those nights, that dinner was light or a little early, and there’s a chance the kid is actually hungry and he/she may have a point.  Of course, we give them a bowl of cereal before bed, but you’ve just conditioned the child to get a 20-minute extension just by faking some hunger pangs.  Yes, Pangs… (I recently learned its pangs and not pains and don’t know why). This leads us to Bedtime Strategies – Plan your Attack

That’s Dad Stuff @thatsdadstuff

SOLUTION:

Consider the hunger argument before you announce bedtime.  If there is a chance that they could be worthy of a nightcap, then ask before you even mention bedtime.  You’re likely to get a more genuine answer from them and they will learn that “bedtime” is bedtime with no excuses.

We invite you to share with us your strategies for getting kids more shuteye (besides Benadryl).

Bedtime Strategy 1

Bedtime Strategy Intro

5 Steps To Better Golf

What steps do you need to take in order to play better golf? Maybe you need to step back and think about what steps needed for better golf. Practice makes perfect, especially for golf. The more you play, the better you get. Are you a driving range hero? Love showing off how far you can hit the ball? How about on the course? Still hitting it long? 300 yards, straight like on the range, or 300 yards hook into the trees? Do you go to the driving range, get a large bucket and just crush your driver, over and over again?

Thatsdadstuff.com @thatsdadstuff

At my driving range, a small bucket has 34 balls, medium 68, and a large has 102. I usually go with a medium bucket. I would take half of the bucket and crush my driver. Then switch to a 7 iron, hit a few, then switch again to a wedge and before you know it I was out of golf balls. I was going about it all wrong.

I’ve been golfing for over 25 years, and about 5 years ago I change my driving range routine. The following steps were a big change for my driving range routine but changed my overall golf game… for the better.

Steps needed for better golf.

Have a limit.

How many times do you actually use your driver on a course? Why hit your driver 30-40 times on the range when you are only going to use it 10-15 times on the course? Cut back on the range and hit your driver 15-20 times.

Take Aim!

Use your 7 iron, aim for something in the range. I hit my 7 iron 155-160yards. I find the 150-yard sign/marker and I try to hit that sign. But mix it up. Aim for dead center 150 yards out, then aim to the left 150 yards and then again to the right 150 yards. Do this for a total of 10 times. Then switch to your 100-yard club and repeat.

Visualize.

Visualize your favorite golf course. Dogleg left? Choose your club wisely. Creek running through the hole about 240 out? Laying up? What club are you choosing? Visualizing your favorite course/holes and will help you in real situations. However, don’t get away from using the driver only 15-20 times.

Breathe, relax and slow down.

In reality, the course. You are not swinging one after another after another for 60-100 swings. You are either walking or riding in a cart right? On the range, take a practice swing, hit one, admire it or cuss at it. Take a breath, what went right, what went wrong, try and fix it on the next one.

Have fun!

It’s OK to have a distraction. This one may rub people the wrong way. Some people are pretty serious on the range. I completely understand and respect that. My golf game improved when I started having fun on the range. I occasionally meet a friend at the range, bring the kid(s) (teach them the game!), or listen to music. Have fun! It’s just a game.

The 5 steps to better golf are pretty simple. It’s not rocket science. This worked for me! Try it. Drop me a line and let me know if you liked this post. Hit me up on Facebook or on Twitter. Let me know how these steps worked for you, or better yet, tell me about your driving range routine!

Clif Bar Math

tidalwave-prince:

Clif Bars

Ok so one day in AP Environmental Science someone brought up the floating garbage island and started to wonder how many Clif Bars you would need to sustain yourself for your whole life. So being the person I am I calculated how many Clif Bars an average US male would need to survive for life (including infancy).

The average US male lives for 81 years. 81 years is 29,565 days. 29,565 days X 3 (meals per day) = 88,695 meals.

Average calorie intake for an adult is 2,000. There are 270 calories per a single Clif Bar (builder bar to be exact).

Take the 2,000 and divide that by 3 (meals per day) and you get 666.666 calories per meal. Roughly you would get 9 Bars a day, 3 per meal (270 X 3 =810 (yes, it’s over slightly))

Multiply 9 by the days (29,565) and you get 266,085, which is how many Clif Bars you would need to sustain you for 81 years (without adding other factors).

So, how much would that cost?

At 192 Bars per pack on Clif Bars website for $239.68 USD it would cost $332,162.93 USD for 81 years.

(Feel free to double check it (the math), knowing me I fucked it up)

Impressive

Card Collecting Starts with Dad… Part 4

If you recall from my last collecting post, Card Collecting Stars with Dad … part 3, I did my first submission with PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator), I got a soul-crushing grade on a Jeter SP rookie, other low grades, but did score a nice Jordan Graded 10. For more on that submission check out the post.

Thatsdadstuff.com @thatsdadstuff 

After educating myself more on the grading process, what graders look for, how they grade, etc, I decided to put myself through this again and send a submission to SGC (Sportscard Guaranty Corporation). This time I submitted 20 cards to SGC. This collection consisted of this year’s baseball rookie class, several duplicates of Anthony Rizzo Rookies, and a Mike Trout 2012 Topps.

So how did I do? FANTASTIC. The six Anthony Rizzo Rookies were received some of these worse grades. I received a couple 8.5s and 9s. However, I did get a 10!. So That’s a keeper!

The Trout was a 9.5…NOT BAD!

Various Card Grading.

Two of the superstar rookies this year were Pete Alonso and Fernando Tatis Jr. I am happy to say, I received several 9.5s and 10s. What’s really great is that I received a Pristine 10 in the 2019 Topps Tatis, and a Pristine 10 Alonso Bowman insert.

I’m very happy with this submission. I plan on selling the duplicates and the ones that scored under 10 to help recoup some of my money. The total investment was $170. I should be able to get most of that back with the ones I plan on selling.  If you are interested in any, let me know. Check out the pics! SGCs turnaround time and customer service was very good. Bulk submission pricing is very competitive and I will definitely use them again on my next submission.

Once I sell and recoup some of my money, I will do another submission! Stay tuned.

Make sure to check out the recurring Collecting Dad posts at thatsdadstuff.com.

Card Collecting Starts with Dad…Part 3

Bedtime Strategies #1

Bedtime Strategies. Strategy # 1 – The Bell ~ From a Dad in North Carolina. Kids don’t like surrendering control of their situations.  Since they can’t tell time you can imagine how their stomachs drop when we announce “its bedtime!”  Sure, giving them a 5-minute warning helps, but when that 5-minutes turns into 30 minutes because we got distracted then you’ve conditioned the child to understand that “5-minutes before bedtime” could be 1 more commercial break or could be an entire episode start to finish.  So when you finally try to round them up for bed they are more likely to be surprised and defiant and put up their defensive maneuvers.

SOLUTION:  If you give them an X minute warning, set a timer.  When the bell rings, that’s it.  There’s no arguing with the bell.  If YOU respect the bell ALWAYS, then THEY will respect it too.  There can never be a bell reset or you’ve undermined the authority of the bell forever.

Bedtime Strategy Intro

Bedtime Strategy 2