Sunday, November 18, 2018

JBL Extreme 2 Wireless Waterproof Speaker System


I enjoy spending time outdoors. And since I really enjoy music, this means I want to bring my music with me. JBL is able to help with this need. I love how great products can get even better through future generations. Having previously reviewed the JBL Extreme, it was a no brainer to jump on the opportunity to review the new JBL Extreme 2.

Features and specs:
  • Wireless Bluetooth Streaming
  • 15 Hours of Playtime
  • IPX7 Waterproof
  • JBL Connect+
  • Durable Fabric and Rugged Material
  • JBL Bass Radiator


The JBL Extreme 2 came in a great looking color printed box with photos and specs of the product. Opening the box revealed a well protected product held in place by custom made foam. Materials used in the construction was mostly plastic with some cloth, rubber, and metal. Quality of materials used was excellent, as was the fit and finish. The JBL Extreme 2 is JBL’s flagship wireless speaker. The JBL Extreme 2 is definitely a flagship product and it showed.

I love the design of the JBL Extreme 2. There’s stereo sound in tweeter and woofer, and a pair of passive radiators on each end to help drop the frequency response a bit and give a bit more bass output. There’s a built-in 10,000 mAH battery which not only powers it on the go, but can be accessed on the go to charge your smartphone. The cloth wrap gives it an elegant look. And I love the solid built-in metal loops for the shoulder strap to carry it around.



If that wasn’t enough, JBL has also given the Extreme 2 some great functionality! You can connect up to 3 Bluetooth devices to access your music. So you as well as your family/friends can get your grove on. It works as a noise and echo canceling speakerphone. It can be linked to other JBL Connect supported speakers for whole house sound. There’s even voice integration for Siri or Google Now. And with it being IPX7 waterproof rating it’s ready for your outdoor adventures.

Now let’s hear how it sounds! Katy Perry: Dark Horse, bass had nice depth, hit really clean and with impressive low end extension and played with good authority. Vocals were smooth with better than expected texture and harmonics. And when turning to Turbulence, this little speaker system gave out some serious turbulence of it’s own! This speaker rocks hard! My room was filled with bass. Being the holiday season, I also turned to some holiday music with Mannheim Steamroller: God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman. Percussion was really crisp and clean with the cymbals and nice kick and pitch definition of the kick drums in the midbass and bass. Brass was pleasantly smooth without being too brassy. Piano sounded more natural than expected.

Bluetooth performance was also exceptional. I walked all over our building, going around 50 feet away and through several walls, and not a drop in signal. To really put it to the test, I had to take it outside, and walking 100 feet away, still no drop in signal. The JBL Extreme 2 definitely has a good quality Bluetooth radio. And when a call came in, it seamlessly switched over to speakerphone. The call quality was very good there as well on both ends of the call. When the call ended, the music came back on.

JBL has really winner in the JBL Extreme 2. The sound was excellent for a wireless speaker with crisp and clean highs, smooth mids, and full bass with very good resolution. And I can’t see where anyone will need more range of the Bluetooth then what we saw. Build quality is also excellent. With an MSRP of $299, the JBL Extreme 2 is also fairly priced for what you get. Based on it’s design, features, quality and performance the JBL has earned our Editor’s Choice award. As a holiday present it would bring a huge smile on anyone’s face. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.JBL.com.



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Sunday, November 11, 2018

Gourmia Fryrista Air Fryer GAF-560 Review


Why is it that everything bad for us to eat is also really tasty? Fried foods are some of the best tasting food around, but no one claims it is even remotely good for us to eat. Getting around this conundrum is simpler than we think…Air fryers are wonderful! Up for review today is the Fryrista Air Fryer GAF-560 by Gourmia.


Features and specs:
• 5 Quart Capacity
• Power: 110-240V, 50-60Hz, 1500W, ETL Plug
• RadiVection 360 Degree Technology
• Adjustable Timer and Temperature Dials
• Removable Basket and Pan
• Easy Wash and Maintenance
• ETL Listed for Safety

The Fryrista came well packaged in a cardboard box with pictures of the product all around the outside. The product itself came packaged in Styrofoam and wrapped in a bag to protect the components. Materials used in construction was mostly plastic and metal. The product was sturdy and fits on the countertop. It is also small enough to fit inside a cabinet. Also included were an owner’s manual and a recipe book.

I have teenagers, so fried food is always a big hit around here! We have used various fryers in the past, and they are messy, difficult to keep clean, and then there is the unhealthy factor to figure in. In the most recent years, we have resorted to simply cooking stuff in the oven but they just don’t taste the same. We were very excited to try this out. After following the directions to preheat the fryer, we eagerly placed taquitos in the basket and started to air fry!

We have now fried a number of things in the Fryrista and here is what we have learned…Jamming the basket with food, is not the best way to get the most food fastest. They will all be cooked, but the middle is more warmed up then the crispy fried goodness that we all want our food to have. Also, it cooks faster than the directions on packages for oven cooking, so adjust accordingly. We found that the best way to get the food to the best consistency was to do small batches, that way the air circulating could get to the most surface area of the food.

The recipe book was wonderful. Most of the recipes were crowd favorites for fried foods but some of them were unexpected, like cheesecake. The basket detaches for cleaning. Although we found that if we were cooking something from scratch, rather than from a package, it is best if we line the basket with something, a baking mat or tin foil or something. There are even dishes you can buy that fit in the basket for cooking or baking products. There are many additional hints and tips online for getting the most of your Air Fryer. We even discovered we could make popcorn in it! It is so much healthier for you, and it tastes so good. I was even able to avoid heart burn after eating mozzarella sticks!

Gourmia has a fantastic product in its Fryrista Air Fryer. It is an excellent addition to any kitchen. Due to it design, features, quality and performance the Gourmia Fryrista Air Fryer GAF-560 has earned our Highly Recommended Award. MSRP is $129. For more information and complete spec, check out their website at www.gourmia.com.




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Kenwood XR eXcelon Reference DDX9905S DVD Receiver Review


I love electronics, especially car stereo. I love the way things continue to improve and get better with more and more features. I’ve seen a lot of changes in car audio over the last few decades. And I love it when the best get even better. This is just what happened at Kenwood. Kenwood gives a great bang for the buck, and if you want their best, it’s been their eXcelon line. But their best just got better with their brand new Reference series. One of those is the DDX9905S.

We’ve reviewed many Kenwood products in the past, so we’re very familiar with them. So when given the opportunity to review one their new Reference series, the Kenwood XR eXcelon Reference DDX9905S, we naturally jumped on it. Unlike in the past when the receiver came in printed box, this was a preproduction unit, so it came in a white box. That explains why we don’t have photos of the standard box that they come in. But the functionality and features are exactly the same.



Features and specs:
  • 6.75 inch HD display
  • Waze Ready
  • Built-in HD Radio
  • 2 USB ports
  • Hi-Res Audio redy
  • Wireless Android Auto
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi built-in
  • 2 RCA video inputs for rear view and front view cameras

I love the design and features of the new Kenwood XR eXcelon Reference DDX9905S. The internal capacitors and components are better quality. It is fully engineered and designed for improved sound. But it isn’t just the sound. They also greatly improved the picture quality with the use of a new high resolution 1280x720 display! I could say the display is gorgeous, and that description would not give it justice. It’s eye candy that will have you grinning from ear to ear every time you turn it on!!

The Kenwood XR eXcelon Reference DDX9905S has me thinking of synergy, which is what it provides. Synergy is when the whole is more than the sum of the parts. With their improvements on the audio side, as well as the improvements on the video side, the result is an overall greatly improved product that yields much better results overall.  The improved video quality, and improved sound quality, will leave a semi-permanent smile on your face. New models are released every year, and often times the improvements may be marginal. Occasionally, manufacturers will provide us a real treat and give us a new model with major improvements over the previous product. And that is exactly what Kenwood gave us with the Kenwood XR eXcelon Reference DDX9905S. The decision to upgrade just got much easier. I cannot recommend it enough for those of you that are either in the market, or considering a present to a loved one.

All of those improvements got me thinking, and I do have one gripe. It’s against the transport. The gripe is not that it’s a bad transport. It’s actually a great transport that is quick and performs very well. But it’s an aged format: DVD. Kenwood knocked it out of the park with the new reference series of receivers. But they could have sent the ball not just out of the park, but into the atmosphere with the inclusion of a blu-ray transport. However I guess that’s not really a gripe, but more of a wish, as no one in the car audio world has a blu-ray in-dash receiver. At least not yet.

For those of you that are familiar with Kenwood, the Kenwood DDX9905S includes the features that you have come to enjoy: 13 band EQ, time alignment, DSP, sound staging, and cross-overs. It can also handle Hi-Res Audio in FLAC, WAV, MP3, WMA, AAC and as well as DSD up to 11.2 MHz. There’s also Dual USB connecters, and Dual Phone Connection which allow you to operate two phones handsfree. You can also connect up to 5 Bluetooth devices, so you and your family/friends can enjoy all of your tunes as well as their tunes. It’s Spotify and Pandora Ready. There’s also inputs for a dashcam, front and rear cameras for parking assist, and iDatalink Maestro for display of your vehicles infotainments such as HVAC controls, vehicle performance info, etc. There's even an A/V output!

Big updates in features is the Web-link app. This allows the control on screen of apps on your smartphone such as Waze, Youtube, and Yelp. Also huge is the included Android Auto and Apple Carplay. Thru these features, you can access control of your smartphone for hands free calls, listen to voicemail, send or receive texts and listen to music. Also, thanks to the GPS, the DDX99055 can access your smartphone’s maps for GPS functionality, giving you directs like a receiver with Navigation built-in.

The Kenwood DDX9905S has me very excited on paper, this receiver has all the features we love and need. And while it doesn’t have Navigation built-in, thanks to Android Auto and Apple Carplay, you can get the same functionality. The real question is how well does it perform. Well, let’s find out!

As an audiophile, the Kenwood eXcelon line has always provided a great sound. And if you have high-end amps and speakers, Kenwood has provided the resolution to take advantage of high end gear. I am very glad to be able to report that the sound of the new Kenwood XR eXcelon Reference series has been improved even more. The use of the new custom-made and carefully selected internal components, as well as the tuning, has really paid off. Initially skeptical, I am now a believer.

This improvement in sound quality shone thru more particularly in Hi-Res audio. I turned to a DSD 5.6 MHz track. Eric Bibb: Meeting at the Building, as well as a multitude of other favorite tracks.  Highs were crisper and cleaner without being bright. Mids were smooth with great detail without being overly warm. Midbass and bass had excellent pitch definition, depth, fullness of bass, and authority, all without being muddy. The Kenwood XR eXcelon Reference DDX9905S proved to be transparent in sound, relaying the sound as you are used to hearing for your music, without coloring it. If you are looking at an upgrade from a previous generation Kenwood eXcelon product, the improvement in sound is not huge, but also not minuscule. There is definitely noticeable improvement in sound.

I loved the other features as well. Being able to have 2 smartphones connected proved to be a nice feature when being out with my wife. And having the ablity to have multiple phones paired with Bluetooth allowed my kids to play their music as well. I really loved the multiple inputs, to be able to play music from so many devices.

There was some disappointment as I confirmed the lack of compatibility of my LGV20 smartphone with wireless android auto. But the remote app worked very well. And if my USB cable was discovered missing thanks to a teenager, I could still get voice prompts for the navigation thru my phone via Bluetooth connection. Connecting any phone with the USB port, did give full access to the wonderful extra features.

Web-link proved to be a great and convenient feature! My kids enjoyed watching YouTube videos. And having access to Yelp made it easier to find a quality restaurant thanks to reviews. With the use of Waze, I had GPS navigation. It worked well, and I was not missing the fact hat the receiver did not have Garmin Navigation built-in, as their flagship DNX995 does.  But I do like the fact that the receiver does have its own GPS antenna that plugs into the back of the DDX9905S, that way you are not relying on the quality of the GPS antenna in your phone.

Reviewing the Kenwood Reference DDX9905S was both easy and hard. It was easy, because using the DDX9905S was so fun. The display and sound was pure candy to the visual and aural senses. But that’s also why it was hard. The experience was so pleasant that I got caught up in playing music and watching videos that I had to keep myself on task. I guess that’s one of the best complaints that can be received. The interface was also pleasantly smooth, fast and very responsive. Models in the past have had an interface that was slower, but that is not the case with the polished interface of the DDX9905S. Based on it’s design, features, quality and performance, the Kenwood XR eXcelon Reference DDX9905S has earned our Editor’s Choice Award. With an MSRP of $899, the DDX9905S is a bargain and worth every penny! For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.kenwood.com/usa. Reference gear used: AudioControl DM-810, JL Audio XD600 6 channel amp, Massive Audio BL1, Infinity Perfect Series 3-way component speakers, Image Dynamics dual ID10 subwoofers.



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Friday, November 2, 2018

2018 Holiday Gift Guide


Stores are starting to put out the Christmas decorations. So it must be time for our annual Holiday Gift Guide. Not everyone likes the same type of items. And not everyone has the same budget. So we try to provide a good variety of items for different ideas for our loyal readers. And as usual, we will provide a full review of each item. Below is the item description, as well as the review schedule. That way you know when to come back for the full review on any items that may interest you.

We live in the digital age. While more and more are jumping from CD to downloads and streaming services. LP’s, aka records, still have a strong loyal following. For those friends or loved ones who fall into this category, a cartridge uploads could be the perfect gift. Check out this one from Audio-Technica.  It's their Evolution AT33EV phono cartridge, with an MSRP of $549.  Review is scheduled for week ending 12/2/2018.

The word is out on the sound of the built-in speakers in TV’s. Because of this, soundbars have grown in popularity. Price points for soundbars vary widely. For those on a tight budget, you should check out this new offering from Creative. It also provides additional functionality as it will also work as a portable speaker!  It's their Creative Stage Air, with an MSRP of only $49. Review is scheduled for week ending 12/9/2018.

We all love our electronic toys. But we also may want to enjoy them   The Firman W01781 has an MSRP of $649. Review is scheduled for week ending 11/25/2018. when we are away from home. A generator will fill their power requirements. If you’ve turned on the news anytime in the last year, you may have also seen the increase in floods, hurricanes, fires, etc. So the prepper community continues to grow. This generator from Firman could be perfect for your outdoor enthusiast or prepper. And it has a built-in inverter making it perfect for your electronic devices, and a good sized 2100 starting watts.

Whether you are an outdoor enthusiast, or a prepper, you will want a way to power your electronics. A portable solar kit could be a great option. It would be perfect for use with an RV, and in a pinch it could be used to power needed electronics in a disaster. Enter the Go Power GP-PSK-120, with an MSRP of $680.  Review is scheduled for week ending 12/9/2018.

We all need to eat. Many of us like to cook. And probably even more of us wish we had more time. Gormia makes some great kitchen appliances, and this Gourmia GAF560 air fryer is one of them. Not only is it a healthier option for your frying needs, it can also save time doing it.  It has an MSRP of $129.Review is scheduled for week ending 11/11/2018.

Many of us like our car audio. After all, it’s a great way to make our daily commute more tolerable. For those bassheads, a quality subwoofer is a must. But in many vehicles, it’s hard to find the space needed for the subwoofer. Image Dynamics can save the day with their ID10.  MSRP is $179.  Check out the full review here:  http://www.stereowiseplus.com/2018/09/image-dynamincs-id10-ultra-low.html

I love the outdoors. May of your friends or loved ones may as well. Music seems to make my activity more enjoyable. JBL makes a great series of wireless speakers, the best of which is the Extreme 2. With it being waterproof, it’s perfect for the outdoors!  You get a lot of performance and features for the $299 MSRP.  Review is scheduled for week ending 11/18/2018.

Some of us have discerning tastes, and look for the exceptional. If you are also a car audio fan, you are in luck. Kenwood just came out with a new reference series. If you are like the Men In Black and are looking for the best of the best, this is it. The Kenwood DDX9905S being excellent in quality and loaded with features is bound to get you spoiled.  It's a bargain at an MSRP of $899.  Review is scheduled for week ending 11/11/2018.

Sure, I’m a basshead, but my family is not. They still enjoy our audio, as well as hearing the full spectrum of sound. Adding a subwoofer to a factory stereo is a great way to improve the sound. One of the easiest ways to add a sub is with a powered subwoofer. The Massive Audio Boom88 is a perfect option, and it doesn’t take up much space.  MSRP is a lowly $179.  Check out the full review here:  http://www.stereowiseplus.com/2018/09/massive-audio-boom-88-powered-8-inch.html

Do you have a family member or loved one who has a creative side and likes to draw? An aspiring artist? Or maybe a college student who takes a lot of notes? A drawing tablet could be just the thing. And a great one is the Royale RoWrite Smart Writing Pad.  MSRP is only $129.  Review is scheduled for week ending 11/25/2018.

Imagine if you could improve the sound of your headphones. Reference sound is a flat sound EQ curve. But that’s impossible to have. All speakers including headphones have a sound signature with rises and dips at different frequencies. Now there is some revolutionary software that will correct the sound of your headphones to a flat sound curve. And it works with many great headphones.  It's the Sonarworks True-Fi for only $79.  Review is scheduled for week ending 12/16/2018.

The holiday season can be a stressful time of year. We want to find that perfect gift for our loved ones and friends. Our hope is that we provided some great options, with some great ides for some products. As always, we are glad to help with some suggestions. And us here at Stereowise Plus would like to with you and your family a Happy Holidays. Thanks for reading.


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