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Messages - Spectere

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1
Random Chat / Re: The Thread of Extreme Happiness
« on: February 24, 2021, 11:44:57 AM »
Yeah, that was my other point of concern. I already have my Diablo II/LoD installer backed up (along with the latest patches) just in case, as well as still owning a copy on CD, just to be on the safe side. Assuming they follow through with those promises, I'm glad they actually learned a lesson from that debacle.

In generally it sort of feels like they're promising less than they were with W3:R, which is probably a good thing in this case. They promised a lot of improvements with W3:R and wound up delivered a product that was inferior to the classic game. With D2:R (getting some real DDR Extreme vibes up in this bitch) it feels like they're advertising it as the original with prettier, upscaled graphics (no small feat given that it's all sprite-based!) and the odd, LCD-unfriendly 25fps cap removed. This may seem like an odd sentiment, but I also like that the upscaled (might be more fair to call them "uprezzed," seeing as it doesn't seem to just be run through a filter) UI graphics are sort of ugly when you look at them from a contemporary lens but they perfectly fit the late-90s/2000 style of D2.

If they make the online system more similar to Diablo 3, I might actually partake in it. I diddled around with D2's Battle.net stuff and...ugh. What a pain. It's still not great that some runewords are online-only, but if they can be modded into the single player game it's not really too much of an issue, I suppose. I'm also kind of curious as to whether D2:R is going to retain the direct TCP/IP multiplayer option of the original. That's becoming less relevant as time goes on, I suppose, but it would be nice to see a LAN-party friendly game come out for a change.

It's a little annoying that it's not coming to macOS, at least not initially, but since they're supposedly still using the original engine that's probably not too surprising (macOS has been pure 64-bit since Catalina and I'm sure the engine still has a lot of little bitness-specific gotchas baked in). I'm sure it'll probably run fine under my Windows 10 VM, but it would have been nice to have a native port.

Also, thanks to the link to plugY! I'll have to check that out later.

I think whether or not plugY will work with D2:R depends on what sort of mods D2:R is meant to work with. PlugY hooks into Diablo 2's internals, so if D2:R changes too much or adds some sort of anti-tamper solution into the mix (and given that we're talking about Activision, I wouldn't be surprised) it's going to make things difficult, if not impossible. It's more likely that their goal is to support stuff like Median XL, which, IIRC, only touches the MPQ files.

The problem is that the term "mod-friendly" is pretty vague. It's just as likely that they're explicitly adding in mod support (like a loader that would allow you to have multiple gameplay mods installed and switch between them) as it is that they're leaving things as-is so as not to break existing gameplay mods. I guess we'll find out more as it gets closer to release.

I did sign up for the technical alpha, so if I get picked (and there isn't an NDA on the whole shebang) I might be able to offer more info later. I do have a history of actually submitting bug reports instead of just treating it as an early demo (especially during the Cataclysm beta cycle) so I guess we'll see!

2
Random Chat / Re: The Thread of Extreme Happiness
« on: February 22, 2021, 10:22:27 PM »
It looks promising so far, but we'll see...fingers crossed and stuff.

3
Random Chat / Re: The Thread of Extreme Happiness
« on: February 21, 2021, 01:22:55 PM »
Yep, definitely makes sense. I guess one bit of silver lining here is that there are a decent number of good cans that can be driven with anything.

As far as your earbuds go, it helps that they support aptX/AAC. Not sure if you've ever had the "pleasure" of hearing SBC, but it's godawful. Nonexistent highs, muddy lows, and compressed mids. Blargh. I'm sure they also sound better than the ATH-M50x (seriously, I prefer my Apple buds over those).

4
Random Chat / Re: The Thread of Extreme Happiness
« on: February 20, 2021, 09:55:19 PM »
If you plan to stick with the Grados for the foreseeable future, I'd say that an amp would be wasted on them. Based on both personal experience as well as other anecdotal reports it doesn't seem to do much for them, if anything.

That said, if you're looking for a DAC/amp to get around a noisy analog jack (which stillseems to be a common issue with laptops for some stupid fucking reason), I'd recommend one of FiiO's offerings. I used one their E10K when I was still physically going to work and it seemed to do a pretty solid job. I only drove IEMs with it personally, but I've heard that it can handle HD600s with no problem. Not bad for US$76 (looks to be $100 in maple leaf bucks?).

5
Random Chat / The Lamest Topic Ever Conceived
« on: February 20, 2021, 05:48:42 PM »
I forgot to make a replacement for the "you couldn't ask for a lamer topic" thread, so here y'all go!

I really wish there was a 1-to-1 replacement for LINQPad on macOS/Linux. I've messed around with RoslynPad, but I always end up running into something that pushes me to fire up a Windows VM and use LINQPad instead. That's going to be a bit of an annoyance if I stick with MacBooks moving forward given the switch to ARM, though a lot can happen in a few years.

I might also see about contributing to RoslynPad after I push through a few of my personal projects.

6
Random Chat / Re: The Thread of Extreme Happiness
« on: February 19, 2021, 04:07:40 PM »
If you already have an amp, I'd suggest looking into the SUNDARAs. Their price isn't bad, especially for planar magnetics, and the more I listen to them the more I like them. The HiFiMAN HE-400i is reportedly a damn good set as well, and they retail for around US$170. They do look a bit more plasticy than the SUNDARAs so I'm not sure how well the body would hold up over time (though they do have removable cables).

I've heard some anecdotal reports that the 80e's ended up getting a bit of a bass boost, but I don't have any 1st/2nd gen Grados lying around to compare them with. I've also heard that the 80 series does tend to benefit from earpad swaps, though I don't really plan to do that since I'm a little hesitant to potentially lose the qualities that make the 80e really shine.

I would really like to take the 125e for a spin at some point, though. Based on how you're describing it, they sound like better 80's, which sounds like a pretty compelling upgrade. I've heard that the 325e, in contrast, does lose some of those sparkly highs.

7
Gaming / Re: Monster Hunter
« on: February 18, 2021, 01:15:38 AM »
Oh jeez, I didn't even think about the Switch's multiplayer. I know it was kinda rough when it first launched, but I imagine (rather, I hope) it would have improved since then. Pretty sure it still lacks a reasonable voice chat system, but that's why Discord and tablets were invented.

I might pick this up. It would be nice to have a Switch game to play that isn't Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition, especially considering how much of a slideshow Age of Calamity wound up being.

8
Random Chat / Re: The Thread of Extreme Happiness
« on: February 18, 2021, 01:06:39 AM »
and a set of planar magnetic cans

Yeah, so I just got a pair of those. I ended up going with the HiFiMAN SUNDARA, since it's widely touted as the best set of headphones under $500:



It definitely has a slightly more neutral sound than my Grados, but the most notable aspect is the bass extension. Bass isn't particularly boomy, but it's very deep and tight compared to my other headphones. My Focals definitely pump out more bass, but the SUNDARA makes for a very nice sweet spot for instances where the Focals are a bit much. As far as I'm aware this is an aspect of the planar magnetic drivers, but I'm also impressed at how the SUNDARAs can manage to play both deep bass and treble with such clarity simultaneously. If I did that with the Focals the treble would disappear and with the Grados the bass tends to get lost.

The treble is slightly emphasized, I'd say, though not as much as the Grados. Live performances and acoustic tracks lose a lot of the brightness and sparkle that the Grados provide. It's still notably brighter than the fairly even, balanced highs I get from the Focals, making for a nice middle ground between the two.

Vocals felt a bit more forward on the SUNDARAs compared to the Grados, particularly on the acoustic tracks I tested. On Joan Baez's Diamons & Rust, I found myself noticing the intricacies in her vocal performance more than I did with the Grados, which seemed to slightly emphasize the guitar.

Build quality feels solid, with a mostly-metal construction. The earpads are soft, fairly breatheable, and comfy. The headphones didn't feel practically weightless like the Grados, but they still weigh in at a good 100g lighter than the Focals. Clamp force is reasonable, feeling similar to the Focals in that regard. The up/down adjustments on the earcups feels a bit stiff, but you can be reasonably certain that they won't move when you lock them into position. The cables are detachable, as one would expect from $350 headphones, and the TRS connectors lock in with a satisfying click. I've read reports that the cable isn't particularly high quality and is prone to breaking. I'm not sure if that's still an issue, but since they use standard 3.5mm TRS jacks for the input it'll be easy to find a replacement.

The biggest downside to these is that they really need an amp. From my iPod, I can drive my Grados like they were a pair of earbuds. It struggles a little bit with the Focals, but at full volume it's still right on the cusp of being uncomfortably loud. With these, maxing out the volume doesn't even bring them to a comfortable listening level, and overall tone felt a bit flat compared to when I drove them with an amp. My JDS Element II can drive my Focals way harder than one could comfortably listen to them on its low gain setting, but with the SUNDARA I had to switch to high gain and crank it to the twelve o'clock position to get it to my normal listening level. That's really not a slight against these headphones, it's just the reality of planar magnetic headphones. To add another scoop of hilarity, these are actually considered easy to drive compared to other planar magnetic drivers.

So, yeah, I'm not going to be able to just lean back in my recliner with my iPod in hand and just chill out like I can with my other headphones, but considering I do most of my listening at my desk anyway it's really not an issue.

As far as specific recommendations go, this is kind of how I rate my three main pairs, in no particular order:

Grado SR80e (US$100): An absolute treat for live performances, acoustic, folk, and rock, and an incredible amount of value for the money. Incredibly easy to drive, fairly low-key, and delightfully bright and detailed.

HiFiMAN SUNDARA (US$350): A good all-rounder. Thanks to it having reasonably bass extension while still having an overall bright sound, I find that it sounds particularly great with modern rock, metal, and IDM. For more bass-heavy tracks, the sub-bass was surprisingly noticeable. It definitely leans bright, though not as much as the Grados. An amp should be considered mandatory with these headphones.

Drop x Focal Elex (US$700): Great for anything with deep, rumbling bass. EDM, rap/hip-hop, dubstep (UK dubstep, anyway--US dubstep works best with brighter cans IMO), DnB all sound sick on these, and stuff like trap really comes to life. While an amp isn't needed for these, their impedance is high enough that I'd recommend getting one.

And the sole entry on the "meh" list:

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x (US$too much): While I wouldn't call these bad, I can comfortably say that I feel like they're overpriced. They aren't really flat enough to be useful for monitoring, with a noticeable bass bump, and inconsistent mids, and I find them to be a bit muddy for critical listening. They're okay for what I occasionally use them for (mic monitoring) but they sound like something that should cost $50, but these sell for triple digits. I would look up the price, but recalling how much I paid for these would probably upset me on a primal level.

9
Gaming / Re: Monster Hunter
« on: February 16, 2021, 05:16:52 PM »
I have a Switch, and I have my eyes on MH:Rise. That said, I have a huuuuuuge backlog I need to get through, so at this rate I might get around to playing it sometime around 2024.

It's a shame MHW isn't cross-platform. I'd love to play Iceborne with you, but I'm a PC player. :(

10
Random Chat / Re: The Thread of Extreme Happiness
« on: February 11, 2021, 06:15:38 PM »
I thought about going for the 125s or 325s, but when I did some research it kind of seemed like the 80s were the best fit for what I planned to use them for. I might end up trying one of their other models, and if I prefer those instead I can always gift the 80s to someone, as I know a few people looking for a decent set of all-rounders. In the meantime, I've just been grabbing the Focals if I plan to listen to anything bass heavy (and as an added bonus, they're fantastic for DJMax!). My iPods can still drive those things pretty well, surprisingly.

At this point I think I'm going to need to find an audiophile shop in Cleveland, Pittsburgh, or something and swing by after the plague clears up. I'd like to fill in the gaps with a set of reference headphones (probably something like the venerable Sennheiser HD600) and a set of planar magnetic cans, but I'd really like to be able to hear them for myself first.

11
Random Chat / Re: The Thread of Excessive Rage
« on: February 08, 2021, 10:47:04 PM »
Sometimes it's just best to separate the two. I ended up investing in a Thunderbolt dock, so whenever I want to get shit done I just plug in my MacBook and my Mac becomes a functional desktop system. When I want to play games, I just swap over to my Windows box. Not all Macs are super expensive, with the Mini and Air being fairly affordable options (mini-desktop and ultrabook, respectively), and the new Apple M1 CPU absolutely thrashes most of the Intel options on the market (while the GPU won't compare, the CPU in a $700 Mac Mini is likely to be quite a bit more powerful than what's in your gaming rig, crazily enough).

Audio in Windows is a complete disaster. One thing that I've found that can help is disabling playback devices that you don't intend to use so that it doesn't randomly bounce to something that won't output any audio. On top of that, routing is sort of hit or miss, with some applications refusing to go to a different source until you close and reopen them. The biggest issue I have is that sometimes Windows will refuse to list my VR headset in the audio options, forcing me to go into the old Windows 7 sound control panel just to get the system to realize that the audio device is there. It's absolute lunacy.

Generally speaking, you'll want to stick with the popular distros if you don't have much background knowledge going in, as those tend to be better supported and are easier to install. That generally translates to one of the Ubuntu variants. Ubuntu (with the GNOME desktop) and Kubuntu (with the KDE Plasma desktop) are the two you'll want to focus on, methinks. I find that KDE's interface is a bit easier to slide into when you're coming from Windows, so I'd recommend starting with Kubuntu. I should also point out that the choice of desktop environment does not impact the applications that will be available. If someone recommends a piece of software in Ubuntu, you can easily use it in Kubuntu without any issues. Similarly, if a developer provides a package for Ubuntu, that package will work equally well in its variants.

The Raspberry Pi 400 is a good platform for tinkering, but one potential issue is that the UI is pretty distinct in order to cater to the platform's paltry hardware acceleration. Most desktop distros use something like GNOME or Plasma, and while you can run those on the Pi they tend to be a bit too heavy for it. If you just want to learn Linux itself, however, it's a pretty solid choice, and since it's based on the same system that Ubuntu is based on (Debian) a lot of command line stuff will translate over.

As far as how to pick the distro, you basically have to know enough to understand your needs and look into the distro's feature set and other unique utilities (package managers, mostly). Having a spare box to experiment with helps. Generally speaking, each distro is catered to a specific need. Arch caters to people who want bleeding edge software, Gentoo caters to people who want the ultimate flexibility and don't mind having to compile the source, Red Hat Enterprise is catered toward businesses who don't mind paying for support, while Ubuntu is catered toward the average Joe (not to say that it isn't powerful, but it's not exactly specialized). Honestly, unless you're unsatisfied with a particular aspect of a given distro, there's no reason to move from it.

12
Random Chat / Re: The Thread of Excessive Rage
« on: February 07, 2021, 09:43:06 PM »
Yeah, Windows is one of the driving forces behind me buying Macs as productivity boxes. There isn't as much of a selection in hardware (I'd love it if they brought back the chonky MacBooks), but I find them generally more pleasant to use than the alternative and still plenty powerful in their own right (they're still UNIX boxes, after all).

Linux is also becoming a great alternative if you want something you can throw on your existing hardware, or don't want to pay the Apple tax. I'm still not crazy about it as a games OS (there's a lot of technical hurdles that make it less than ideal, even for natively supported games), but it generally just gets the hell out of the way and lets me work. Lately I've been preferring Arch Linux with KDE Plasma as my desktop environment of choice, but prior to switching to that I was using Kubuntu on my work PC and Gentoo on my home systems.

Kubuntu is a fantastic choice if you want to try something that's functionally similar to Windows (albeit significantly more flexible) with fantastic developer support behind it.

13
Gaming / Re: 2021 Backlog Report
« on: February 02, 2021, 05:18:19 PM »
With slayer keys, I thought they just made them invisible, did that mean they were also not collectable? If so, calling bullshit. Because I swear I read on a tooltip somewhere that cheats are disabled in slayer gates, implying you can replay a level with cheats, to play a slayer gate, and it'll disable them just for the gate. I got all of my slayer gates first run so I cant go back to verify, but I was skipping many of the optional encounters since failing once or twice nukes your ammo and hunting for more is annoying, with cheats tho...might boot the game up and play around with it.

The keys were definitely hidden and uncollectable when I tried this. They still appear on the map, but you can't see them in the world itself. Maybe the slayer gates function like that if you've already collected the key for the level, but if you haven't fetched the key yet you won't be able to unless you run through the level without cheats.

Last time I played was before The Ancient Gods released so it's also possible that they may have changed it when the expansion was released.

And I'll be honest, my rage with marauders wasn't with all marauders, but there was one in Necrovol part 2? that spawns after an archvile (which spawned after a doom hunter), and I had no lives...so I had to retry that entire battle 3 or something times because of that single marauder. AKA a git gud or die trying situation. Nothing too bad, but I did have a minor ragefit.

Ah…yeah, that one was seriously dickish.

This game had me semi interested in playing some other single player fps MAYBE, looking at wolfenstein new order ($20usd on steam) and I may impulse buy that sometime in the future. This game may have did what persona 4 did for me with jrpg's, rejuvenate my desire to play an entire genre of game I had neglected for many years.

New Order was pretty great. There are some parts that I wasn't particularly crazy about, but in general I felt it was a solid 8-9 out of 10 experience.

Haven't played Old Blood or New Colossus yet, but my dad really liked them. New Colossus is apparently a pretty big step up in difficulty, so if you move onto that one you'll probably want to step it back by one notch.

I heard Youngblood is trash. Can neither confirm nor deny.

14
Gaming / Re: 2021 Backlog Report
« on: February 02, 2021, 10:50:21 AM »
Pretty much my only complaint about Doom Eternal was the "try again, loser" platforming. It feels fantastic when you're leaping over giant chasms with a clear end goal or direction, but having to do what occasionally feels like mid-air puzzle solving is a bit bleh. I was kind of ambivalent to it in the long run, I guess.

I honestly didn't mind the marauder all that much. I felt that the game mixed him in with other enemies gradually enough that I was able to work out a good rhythm (shoot the background enemies, see the green flash, and then quickly pelt the marauder). I'm sure I'll change my tune when I start doing a UV run, they seemed alright to me in HMP. That said, I do agree that the BFG and crucible should be able to damage him regardless of his state. I kinda feel that the resources for those two weapons are limited enough that giving the player the option to use them to down swathes of demons or use them to deal with a marauder would have been a good middle ground.

One other thing that I really wasn't crazy about is the way the game handles slayer gate keys. The game tells you that you can turn on cheats to go back and collect missing things, but last time I played they didn't mention that slayer gate keys were an exemption. I get that they want you to do the slayer gates without cheats, but couldn't they just temporarily disable cheats when you enter the gate or something? Or, at the very least, let you know that you couldn't collect the keys? Seems like a really odd oversight to me.

Still, I don't think I've played a game as fast and frenetic as Doom Eternal. I can understand why some people wouldn't like it do to its unrelenting intensity, but I seriously love it.

Also, I think I'd be remiss in not bringing up just how awesome the underlying game engine is. The game seems to run crazy smooth regardless of what you're running it on. I suppose it makes sense, given that the Switch was a target platform of both 2016 and Eternal, but I think it's still safe to say that id has solid engine tech on lockdown. Kind of a shame they don't license it out anymore. If it had adequate tooling it would probably be solid competition for Unreal Engine 4.

15
Random Chat / Re: The Thread of Extreme Happiness
« on: February 01, 2021, 12:04:41 PM »
Snagged a set of Grados, specifically the SR80e, and I have to wonder: how in the hell did they manage to make a $100 pair of headphones so friggin' detailed?

So first of all, let's talk about their build. I wouldn't say that they're cheaply built, but they are definitely practical cans. They don't look as traditionally nice as my Focals, or even my Audio-Technicas, but I would say that their appearance is iconic. Instead of a semi-flexible plastic band, it has a metal strip wrapped in leather that can be easily shaped to fit one's head. Instead of thick plastic or metal arms, it has a single pole that the ear cups can slide up and down with a bit of mild force. On top of that, the ear cups can swivel a full 360 degrees, basically ensuring that they can fit any head and ear shape (unlike my old Sony BT headset, which was painful to wear for longer than an hour). The form earpads are a bit on the spartan side, but thanks to the low clamp force they don't bother me like the gasket on my old Oculus Rift CV1 did (same material, just pressed firmly against your hot, sweating face).

Then there's the weight. My Focals are heavy (not uncomfortable, but you do feel them), and my Audio-Technicas are hot (closed-back, yadda yadda). The Grados are transparent. They're the only headphones I've used where I've actually forgotten that I was wearing them. If you do need to take them off, the rotating ear cups allow you to rest them pad-down on your chest so that they don't end up strangling you.

As far as the sound goes, they are definitely not neutral, leaning towards bright. The bass is definitely there, but it's neutral rather than emphasized or restrained. If you listen to a bass-heavy track you'll hear it, but you don't get that sub-bass slam like you do with some cans (or the moderate to extreme sub-bass saturation you would get with Beats and Raycons). While I would describe them as bright, cymbals and hi-hats never become ear-piercingly loud and tinny. I would say that the emphasis on those frequencies actually makes the music sound more natural. Additionally, the sound is disarmingly detailed and crisp, with even things like guitar distortion having a surprising amount of texture. Percussion consistently sounds punchy and impactful as well, as opposed to the more subdued and darker response I get from my Focals.

The sound stage is impressively wide. My Focals make you feel like you're in the recording booth. The Grados make you feel like you're in an auditorium. I legit don't know how they did it, but if something is panned hard to one direction it sounds like the person playing the instrument is in the room with you. It might be fun to do some gaming with these things for that detail alone.

On top of this, these things are shockingly easy to drive. My iPods can drive my Focals, but you really have to crank up the volume on the player to do so (max volume on my iPods drives them right to the point of being uncomfortably loud). The Grados have such low-impedance that you can drive them with just about anything. If you were to plug them into a phone or music player and max out the volume, they would get dangerously loud. This is particularly great for portable devices, since keeping the volume lower means that you'll get better battery life, but it's also convenient for other devices since it eliminates the need to run them through an amp.

There is some sound leakage due to these being open-back cans, but it isn't horrific. This is hardly a scientific test, but I brought up the noise level meter on my watch and held it about 0.3m away from my face. The ambient noise level in my room is around 36dB. With the Grados playing Disturbed at a comfortable listening volume, the watch showed 54dB, which is around the same ambient levels you'd see in a typical office. I imagine it would fall off pretty harshly as you moved further away from them. You wouldn't want to use these in a quiet library, but it could be worse.

I'd say the two biggest drawbacks I can see right now have to do with the cable. First, unlike both my Audio-Technicas and Focals, the cable is not easily replaceable. While I can sort of understand that on the SR60e and SR80e, given their sub-$100 price tag, I find it hard to justify their upper end models having the same fixed cable design. Even the $1800 GS3000e has a fixed cable, which I find utterly bizarre.

But hey, I'll give that a pass on my lower-tiered set. The other thing is that the cable is quite thiccc. I swear, the cable feels heavier than the headphones themselves. This sounds like a great thing on the surface, but it feels like there's a serious risk of it yanking my light, flash-modded iPod off of my desk or table if the cable shifts around the right way. I'm tempted to slap my heavy, double-platter 60GB drive in one of my pods just something to give it a bit of heft.

So, would I recommend these? Abso-fuckin-lutely. While the ideal headphone is obviously going to depend on personal preference and the type of music one listens to, these are a pretty great set of all-rounders. Their light weight and relatively small size make them easy to use almost anywhere, and their low impedance ensures that you can drive them with anything. If someone were to force me to choose only a single pair of headphones from my modest collection of cans, buds, and IEMs, these would be the ones I'd take.

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