Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Sound and Sushi

Just re-reading some posts from a while back and I noticed that I said I'd blog about the speakers and japanese food I had, yet never did. I do this frequently; when I've done an entry without a drawing and then update a picture later on, I don't write any more. If the drawing gets finished (I use the term finished loosely) and uploaded and posted, I'm already so sick of the whole procedure all I do is scribble down some quick thoughts of it and publish. There isn't much patience left to do additional content.

/self-bashing intro over

So yeah. I had a pretty great set of speakers a while back, I got them for my 19th birthday, or so I recall and they lasted me about a year and a half. They sounded great, and were a good set for me since I had to move around a lot; the 2.1 setup (that is 2 speakers and 1 woofer) was just light and compact, yet substantial for sound. Quality was right there, crisp sound through high and low ranges. Too much bass did make the woofer vibrate unduly, but I'm pretty sure that was a problem with footing, not speaker quality. So, yeah, they were good... except for this connection that they had. Imagine, if you will, a very large version of the ps2 socket: ps2 being the common modern mouse/keyboard inputs - round, I think 6 pins in a circular orientation. This connection is rather flimsy. Rather really flimsy. I hate the connection. I've had the entire thing rip completely apart on several occasions with mouse/keyboard tripping accident, and it's a pain because this cheap ass connection - which is a bitch to orient when pluggin in, sticks out a mile from the computer, always gets in the way and generally is a pain - ruins the entire unit.

Well that's what happened with the speakers. The ps2 style connection channeled power from the woofer to the speakers, and sound information from the speakers to the woofer. A horrible logistical setup of cables, if I do say so myself. So the connection became flimsy and I noticed I was losing signal to the left speaker. Wonderful. The problem seemed to be solved if you added pressure to the connection in the right direction. Over time the problem persisted and got worse, requiring ever increasing force to be applied. Eventually there was a really taut elastic band holding it at like 30 degrees to it's natural angle, and the sound was still getting lost. So I go back to apply more pressure and the connection shears right off. It wouldn't be so bad if it was just used to get the sound information from the speakers which connected to the PC - I can live without a woofer - but it supplied power TO the speakers as well, so the entire good quality system was shot because of this cheap-assed connection.

I really resented Creative for that. It was either an evil money making strategy or a very poor design decision, and either way I was pissed. I tried to do a home-made wire repair, but the task was beyond me. I looked around for professional services that do this, but nobody deals with this kind of connector to be able to repair. I went as far as calling the company and they said it was covered by warranty... my 1 year warranty which had just expired. Fan-freaking-tastic. Well I gave up on it, since it would probably cost me more than I wanted to spend, and I had an old pair of speakers I could use as back up. Ironically, the old $10 speakers didn't sound half-bad, which is probably because of my amazing SoundBlaster Audigy2 Platinum ZS sound card. Beautiful unit it is.

This was all about a year ago. So last week(ish) I was out with a friend just going to TigerDirect in Markham because she wanted a new hard drive. She got a really good deal by the way, I think they were limited quantity reduced half price... something like 80GB for $40. Anyway, while browsing the store I was looking for this set of speakers I'd had my eye on for a while, something to finally replace and upgrade from the last ones. There was never really the opportunity to buy them: eBay had them for cheap, yeah, if I want to pay $50 shipping charges... same with online stores like ncix. Couldn't find them at my trusty FactoryDirect, which always has the cheapest prices, but limited selection. I don't hold it against them, they're still great =P. When I didn't see them around the store I just thought "oh well, missed them again." and we went to check out. Well what do I see in a big stack at the checkout? The Logitech Z-5300e! And lower than what I found them online! And new! Most.Expensive.Impulse.Buy.Ever! Oh wait, no, my Minidisc player in NY was the most... well still, it was funny because it was decided waiting int he checkout line at the counter, like you'd do with a packet of gum or something.

They're a 5.1 setup, nice upgrade from last time with 2 front, 2 rear, 1 center speakers, and 1 subwoofer. The sound quality is huge. I never listen to stuff that loud to begin with, but these bad-boys can get LizzOUD! (Loud, for those who don't know the ~izz~ rules) The surround sound is pretty killer. I love how much more it adds to music and playing Warcraft. There's a very useful controller that easily powers on/off, controls volume, bass, fade and... uhh... one other thing I don't exactly recall. The connectors are all separate, so if one fails I'm pretty sure it can be replaced with minimal cost expenditures. The whole thing is solid as a rock though, so I'm sure everything will be fine. It cost just under $200 after taxes, and I already feel they're worth it; it's a pleasure simply to listen to them. The only drawback I can see is that they're huge in the box, and it means another sizeable addition to my already bulky tri-annual move. Whatever.

Oh, and later that day I had the best japanese food I've ever eaten. Ironically, I found it in my home town of Woodbridge, which I always accuse of being devoid of culture and quality entertainment. I hope it does well, I wouldn't want the stubborn and ignorant masses of this town to force it to go out of business. It was also surprising because I assumed the restaurant to be from the 'Taste of Japan' franchise, which you can find bastardizing the food in many mall food courts across Ontario (Waterloo to Ottawa, and many places in between I know of first hand). I honestly didn't expect it to be such a class act in terms of their facility and food. It has a live hot-table eatery, a sushi bar, and of course just the regular sit-down. I'll have to go for the hot-table sometime, as it was a lot of fun when I went to Benihana's.

So what was so good about Kinda: A Taste of Japan, you ask? Well, for starters it had a very elegant ambiance. The entrance with full plate glass doors, the clean and open sushi-bar with fresh fish, the picture-laden book-style menus, the service, the facilities... I could go on. The most notable thing about the experience though was the food. The first thing I noticed was how quickly it was prepared and served. There were generous portions to the meal(especially since we over-ordered, heh). It isn't often I literally cannot finish what is put in front of me, but this was the case. It was so good, though, that you wanted to keep eating, despite that sickly feeling of girth. Particularly good was their sushi and tempura. The tempura was so amazingly crispy and flaky, I had never seen it cooked to such perfection before. The sushi was by far the most surprising though. Normally, while I do enjoy it, it tends to leave a rather strong and notable aftertaste, and the texture of it can be somewhat rubbery. Not this. This was like... like butter.
Forgive the SNL reference for a moment and just literally think of butter (though it was like buttah, lol). Soft and smooth and refreshing, it had the genuine taste of salmon, and yet left a fresh and inconspicuous aftertaste. Brilliant! I'll definitely have to go there again. It was quite the experience in delectability.

That was a very good day. This is not. I feel trapped at work because of these long hours. I'm sure I'll get accustomed to it, but right now it's still rough on the system. Oh, and no drawing tonight. Sorry, last night it took far longer than I wanted it to, and once again I did not get done half of what I had wanted.

"I like the sushi cuz it never touch the frying pan" - Barenaked Ladies, One Week

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