Hedders' Ramblings

Gaming, home tech, politics, music, whatever really

Category: Music

TIBO Bond Mini

I have a stereo in the living room. A proper one, as in I-bought-it-from-Richer-Sounds proper. Yes, that does make me old-fashioned, but the kind of music I like wasn’t mixed to sound good on shitty little speakers, and I still like to buy music on CD. So there.

That said, I do have our whole CD library ripped to our Plex server for ease of access from our phones and cars while out and about, and for a while now I’ve had an Amazon Echo Input hooked up to the stereo and used Alexa’s Plex skill to stream music from Plex to the living room stereo.

It works well, but like many people I’ve started to worry about the privacy implications of Alexa technology. So, I started looking around for some alternative streaming solutions, and based on reviews and so on eventually settled on the TIBO Bond Mini as offering everything I needed except voice control, for a reasonable amount of money.

The first thing that struck me when I opened up the box is just how dinky the thing is – it’s little bigger than a ring box. Setup is, according to the quick start guide, a matter of hooking it up to the stereo, powering it on and following the steps in the companion app to hook it up to the wifi network. Simples.

Or so I thought. Here is where I hit my first snag. It seems that the Bond Mini doesn’t support 5Ghz wifi. My home wifi is dual band and uses the same SSID for both, because the mesh system allows 5Ghz devices to fall back to 2.4Ghz in some of the dodgier areas (old house, thick brick walls, therein hangs a tale ….).

Happily it offers an alternative means of setup. You can use your phone to join a temporary wifi network fired up by the Bond Mini and configure it from there.

Except that, of course, my phone is too bloody clever by half, realises that the temporary wifi network doesn’t have internet access, and falls back to 4G. The only way to get around this seems to be to put it into flight mode and then manually re-enable wifi. With that done, the app could at least see the device, but the device apparently couldn’t see my home wifi network and so the setup wizard couldn’t continue.

There is a third and final way offered to configure it, which is again to hook up to the temporary wifi network and then configure the device manually using its web-based interface. Finally, that worked and I was able to get the thing onto my home network.

It then resolutely refused to see my Plex server through DLNA. I even went so far as to give the Plex server a restart. No joy. So, I restarted the Bond Mini, whereupon the control app stopped seeing it and it apparently completely forgot the wifi config and went back to first setup mode.

It being a school night, I gave up at that point. I will have another go this weekend, but I have to say, first impressions are less than stellar.

UPDATE 29/09/19: I’ve managed to get it onto the network reliably. Still won’t see any bloody DLNA servers though. Gah. I’ve contacted support. We shall see.

NiN

Name a better live band. Go on.

Martin Gore

It’s become a tradition of Depeche Mode’s shows that somewhere near the midway point, Martin takes the mic and he and Peter do stripped-down, piano-led renditions of one or two of their older songs. Martin has rather modestly said that they do this “to give Dave a bit of a rest”, which is no doubt at least part of it; Dave Gahan is an energetic frontman with a powerful voice, and now he’s north of 50 it must take its toll. But the results are also gorgeous in their own right. Here’s an example, where they take the poppy, electronics-heavy album closer “But Not Tonight” from 1986 and turn it into a showstopping, mournful ballad.

I’ve always loved Martin’s voice – he and Dave harmonising is one of the best sounds the human throat has ever produced – and this is a stellar performance. His obvious awkwardness at being out front just adds to the charm. And Peter is a wonderful piano player. Apparently they don’t really rehearse these too much – they want to give this section of the show a late night piano bar feel, so it’s sometimes a little ragged and organic, and it’s a lovely counterpoint to the precision of “full fat” Depeche.

Last of the Mohicans on an Oud

I’m a sucker for a clever cover version, and this one of the cleverest I’ve seen in a while:

Really like this a lot.

Child Psychology

Fabulous, informal acoustic version of one of my all time favourite bands, the mighty Black Box Recorder, playing what might be their signature song.

Tell me this isn’t awesome. Go on. Come at me.

Eurovision

Is it just me or has Eurovision got really dull in recent years? It always used to be a bastion of tongue-in-cheek camp, but over the last few years it’s become more and more po-faced and earnest.

Take last night, for instance: a cluster of tired four-on-the-floor Europud, wholesome kitsch, bloated balladry and sub-Gloria Gaynor me-against-the-world humourless bleh. Absolutely no fun anywhere, not a single drumming granny to be seen, and to top it all off we were subjected to the heartbreaking spectacle of Madonna grimly murdering Like A Prayer despite it being very obvious that a) her range has dropped over the years to the point where she actually can’t consistently hit those notes and b) she was painfully aware of that fact but felt duty bound to give it the good old college try anyway.

Losing the high notes happens to all singers, of course – it’s a fundamental unfairness of being a vocalist rather than an instrumentalist that you don’t get better with age, no matter how much you practice – and to be fair to Madonna she sounded fine on the new material that followed, presumably because she wrote it for her vocal range as it is now, rather than as it was 30 years ago. I think she should have stuck with the newer stuff to be honest; her voice may not be what it once was but she is a skilled and clever songwriter, and her newer songs are strong enough not to need bolstering with old hits that she can’t reliably perform any more.

Oh well. I don’t think I’ll bother with Eurovision next year. Another bright spot in the world reduced to dullness.

Manson and Mayberry

This is sooooo worth a watch:

Obviously anything involving Shirley Manson is going to be interesting at the very least, and she’s on fine form here. But Lauren Mayberry too is a revelation; I’ve not seen her interviewed before and so I had no idea quite what a powerful intellect was behind those wonderful Chvrches songs.

Also, Shirley Manson tells a Debbie Harry story. I mean, come on.

Lemmy. Slash. Grohl.

Jesus fucking Christ this is good.

What creative chemistry looks like

Despite being a massive AFP fan I’ve only recently started delving into The Dresden Dolls. I came across this, which amazed me. If ever you need a working definition of creative chemistry, look to Brian Viglione and Amanda Palmer.