Choosing a new portable digital audio player (DAP) and Lasik Surgery

As people who read my blog know, and who watch my youtube, I’m a semi-audiophile, and I’m a musician. I care alot more about audio than most people do. I don’t care that much about having super high resolutions on my displays, and I think 1080p is fine for me. I still export a lot of my youtube vids in 720p still because of the space requirements of FHD. I can’t fathom making any 4K videos. I’ve always thought the display technology (IPS, IGZO, OLED etc) was more important than the resolution.

Anyways, I’m in the market for a new digital audio player (DAP). Most people just use their phones to play music these days, but I long for the days when I had a Creative Zen Vision M and people had their iPods and stuff to play music… what happened to those days? Those players were dedicated audio players, and they have discrete DACs to play music with. I feel because I play FLACs and lossless files a lot, I am best served getting a stand alone audio player.

Note that I already have a Soundblaster E5 DAC/Amp but thats more for home use… the device is kind of bulky to carry around in my pocket.
I’ve also upgraded to a pair of Denon MM400s over my Sennheiser Momentums for home use, and Fender FXA6 over my Master&Dynamic ME03s for portable use.

I’ve been using my Sony Xperia Z3C as my audio player up until now, and that is actually better than most phones due to high res / flac capabilities, but I’m about to retire that phone soon as its getting some technical issues.

So I’ve been shopping around with DAPs as there is a lot ranging from $100 – $1k+ and I’ve been looking for one around the $500~ mark. Here’s my considerations.

Shure SHA900 – is a portable DAC/Amp, but is not a player in itself. Its probably the best portable Amp out there, but its really expensive ($1k) and I would have to carry an extra device in my pocket.
Astell&Kern – have a strong lineup of dedicated audio players which sound great and are nicely designed, but most of them have a steep price, and I prefer having an Android interface so I can access my music apps. (DAC: Wolfson WM8740)
Onkyo DAP-X1 – is pretty nice, runs Android lollipop and has dual DACs/Amps and a balanced out and 2 microSD slots, but a bit expensive considering I don’t even use balanced headphones. (DAC: 2 ESS Sabre ES9018K2M)
Sony Walkman ZX2 – is now much cheaper online due to its age, but its still a good one to think about. Sony has always been renowned for its products and I am a acknowledged Sony fan, but to nitpick a little here – the Android OS version Jellybean is kind of outdated and it lacks some features the other DAPs have like having a DAC, and for the price, there could be better.
Colorfly C4 – looks hands down the coolest DAP I’ve ever seen, complete with built in RCA inputs and switchable SRC, but is a bit bulky and the controls while very retro, don’t look the easiest to use. Runs its own OS as well. (DAC: Cirrus Logic CS4398 the exact same one as my Soundblaster E5)
Acoustic Research M2 – looks great, slim, runs Android, etc but price point is a bit high, and only available in Europe it seems. There are cheaper players with the same specs. (DAC: Burr-Brown PCM1794A)
Hifiman HM802S – having a balanced out is nice, as well as a retro clickwheel and has a modular amplifier card that can be replaced. However the bulk and lack of Android means this suffers from the same issue as the Colorfly C4. (DAC: Wolfson WM8740)
FiiO x7 – FiiO has always been a brand for good value, affordable yet good quality. And I was really drawn to this player. It’s got everything the expandable storage, good price, slimness, running Android lollipop, and swappable amp modules. (DAC: ESS Sabre ES9018S)
Pioneer XDP-100R – this is basically the Onkyo DAP with one less DAC and amp chip and no balanced out and as a result its slightly cheaper. I like this one a lot too, it runs Android lollipop, slim enough, has a speaker surprisingly, and has 2 microSD slots for expansion. (DAC: ES9018K2M)

In the end, I was deciding between the FiiO x7 and the Pioneer XDP and the Pioneer won by a hair. The speaker and 2 microSD slots made the difference. You never know, I might need to show my friend some youtube videos and the speaker comes in handy. They are both at the perfect price points since I don’t use balanced headphones.

Pioneer XDP-100

Anyways, can’t go wrong with any of these, they all have microSD for expansion, some form of DAC to make the music sound a lot better, and support for high res formats like DSD, DXD, PCM, MQA etc although I really only care about FLAC. I think MQA has a good future but it needs more support and if it was widely available I’d use that more.

And.. in other news I got Lasik Surgery in Korea!
My time in Korea is becoming short and I wanted to do surgery here since Korea is world class in experienced surgeons and most Koreans get it done more than other Asians. Maybe 90% of Korean girls wear contacts or did Lasik. Plus, its cheaper, only $1500 for me compared to $3k/$4k/$5k in USA/Canada.
I highly recommend this site Dream Eye Center the staff can speak English, its located in Gangnam, and the doctors and staff are very professional and helpful. Alot of Kpop stars did it there too so you know that have good credentials.

I was a bit nervous at first, but it was ok.. there was no pain, but it was slightly disturbing because I can see the blade come down and cut a flap in my cornea, and theres a suction cup placed on my eye and that was slightly painful for a second. That was about it… and now my vision is a bit blurry especially in my left eye, and I have to use 3 different eye drops a day. But it will get better within a week I heard. Anyways, through the miracle of technology I don’t need glasses anymore after wearing them for 10 years!

Videos:



Japan vs Korea vs China, Inter-Asian relationships

I’m back from Japan! which means I now have been to the three major East Asian countries, Japan Korea and China. Which means I can do a fair comparison between all three.

Cost of living
Japan is the costliest for sure. Not only is it about 20-30% more expensive than Korea on everything, but a lot of places are cash only! Electronics, Food, Housing, services etc everything is the most expensive in Japan. China has probably the cheapest cost of living in general, unless you are staying in Beijing or Shanghai. Aside from those two cities, other cities are much cheaper to live in. Korea is somewhere in between.

Winner: China

Food
Japan has a lot of good seafood and noodles. Of course I don’t eat much seafood, so I mostly ate Soba, Ramen and Udon, and YakiniQ and Shabu shabu. If you like seafood, Japan’s the place to go. Korea has mostly spicy food, pork or chicken is common. They don’t have that many vegetables aside from Kimchi in their dishes, so if you like spicy meat, Korea is the best. China is big and has so many different cuisines that I can’t generalize it. Just I’m gonna say if you don’t like oily foods then don’t go to China, else China has a lot of tasty foods as well.

Winner: depends on what you like but China has the most variety

Natural Scenery
Japan has great natural scenery, Okinawa, Kyoto, lots of temples and shrines. And Korea has Jeju, Gyeongju, Gangwon-do, lots of great places as well. However, neither really compares to China, as its the biggest and is the clear winner here with every place from the mountains of Tibet to the lush mountains of Southern China, the historic capitals of Beijing, Xi’an and Nanjing, Yunnan, Guizhou, Huangshan, the canals of Suzhou and Wuzhen, the West Lake of Hangzhou, I mean Southern China by itself is its own category for beauty, mainland China wins here by virtue of having the most land, so no offense to Japan and Korea, but China clearly wins here.

Winner: China

Technology
Japan has the best technology by far. For example they have machines that scan your face, determine your mood and recommend you a drink based on that. That’s incredible. Korea has great technology too especially fast internet but overall its a step below Japan. China, outside of Beijing/Shanghai, still lags behind Japan/Korea in tech (they just recently got LTE for example, and China never had 3G penetration). In addition a lot of websites are banned in China and you need a VPN to access them so yeah… beware of that.

Winner: Japan

English
Korea uses the most English out of the three, which means its the most friendly to foreigners. A lot of Korean words sound just like English anyways (Konglish), and Koreans in general speak the best English out of the three. Japan has a bit of English but not much and most places will have Japanese only. China, good luck there’s no English to be found pretty much anywhere and Chinese generally cannot speak a lick of English.

Winner: Korea

Nightlife
Korea has the most 24 hour establishments out of the three, and Seoul is The place to go for all night drinking and clubbing, so if you’re into that, Korea is the place. Japan has 24 hour places too, but less so than Korea, and not so much drinking either. China didn’t even have clubs until very recently thanks to Communism, and its still developing. That said, Shanghai has nightlife on par with any big Asian city.

Winner: Korea (Seoul in particular)

Women
Ah, the girls. As for absolute beauty, if you don’t care natural or unnatural, Korea takes the cake here. Korean girls love to dress up, wear short skirts and lots of makeup and in general you won’t find many ugly Korean girls at all.
Japanese girls are more conservative, tend to cover their legs more by wearing pants, long dresses or knee length dresses, and while they do makeup, not as much as Korean girls do.
Chinese girls, I’ve mentioned before, prefer not to do anything to their appearance, and don’t do makeup nor dress up that much. They are the most conservative out of the three (again thanks to Communism). I’m not going to get into “natural beauty” as Chinese girls often like to brag about, since all races have “natural beauty” its how much extra attention you put into your appearance, and Korean girls win by a landslide here. You’ll also find that the rate of glasses-wearing girls is correlated as well, with about 60%~ of Chinese girls wearing glasses, 30%~ of Japanese girls wearing glasses, and 10%~ of Korean girls wearing glasses.

Behavior wise, Japanese girls are extremely kind and polite, my Japanese friend paid for everything from food, spa, even my train ticket to Kyoto! I’ve never had a woman pay that much for me before. Japanese girls are more indirect when they are talking to you, and very shy. Chinese girls are opposite, very direct and blunt when talking and not as shy as other Asian girls. Their manners are not as good as Koreans or Japanese, as many people who have seen Chinese tourists can attest to. Korean girls are somewhere in the middle in behavior, the perfect balance if you ask me.

Winner: Korea on absolute beauty, Japanese on the most well mannered

Some people might say I have a Korean bias, so I will add a video later to show the differences and you can judge for yourself. I will also visit Taiwan after, so I can do a comparison of Taiwanese girls too, though I expect somewhat of a cross between Chinese and Japanese.

Ok and another topic I wanted to talk is InterAsian relationships. A lot of fuss has been made around Asian-White relationships and I’ve blogged about this in the past, just like a lot of Asian Canadian/American guys I was angry at how many white guys were “stealing” our women, but after meeting actual Asian girls from Asia I changed my stance on this.
It doesn’t matter to me anymore, because I don’t care about Asian American girls anymore. To me, they are just American girls wrapped in an Asian skin. Their personalities are totally American.

I’m more interested in Asian-Asian relationships, particularly since I’m a Chinese interested in Korean women. Fact is, I’ve seen less Inter-asian relationships than white-asian relationships and thats really perplexing to me. But as I’ve seen, the reason this might be, is because Asians are generally close minded to their own race. Chinese hang out with Chinese, Koreans with Koreans, Japanese with Japanese. Because of this narrow mindedness they develop misconceptions of other Asians and are not willing to hang out outside of their race. Thus, other Asian men aren’t likely to ask out women from another Asian race.

That’s my reasoning for why I see so few Chinese men-Korean girl relationships since on paper, thats a pretty darn good pairing! Chinese men are known to be good at household work, and the new generation of Korean girls prefer guys who can do housework/cooking as the previous generation of Korean guys couldn’t. Also, Chinese guys don’t mind spending money for girls whereas Korean guys complain about it.
Yet, I rarely have seen that pairing.

More common is White men-Asian girl pairings, and why is this more common? Because white people (and I mean Westerners by that) are more open minded and willing to try new kinds of relationships. They are also much more aggressive in talking to girls, which in the end is why there’s much more white-asian relationships than Asian-other asian relationships.

I often get asked ‘why do you like Korean girls? why not Chinese girls?’ and I don’t like this, because I was born near Korea, so I have a similar background, we’re both Asian, and why do I have to like the race I was born into anyways? I don’t think white guys who date Asian girls get asked the same question “why do you only like Asian girls?” despite the fact that I know quite a large number of white friends who have yellow fever and exclusively date Asian girls. They have less in common with Asians and they don’t get asked, while I have a lot in common with Koreans and I get questioned. Weird.


Anyways thats my rant for now…

Diversity issues, Andrew Jackson hate, Bad luck with missing flights

First off, addressing an issue here. Star Wars will apparently feature a gay character.

Now, as everyone realizes, Star Wars Force Awakens was probably the most diverse Star Wars yet, featuring a strong feminist role model as the lead character and a black stormtrooper as a supporting lead. But what does being gay add to the lore? Why does every group have to have 100% representation? If you add a gay character in Star Wars, then you’ll have to add a lesbian Asian character, a transgender Mexican character, etc and so on. Thats the problem with making things politically correct; it doesn’t reflect reality. In reality a good majority (90%+) of people on Earth are heterosexual. Putting a gay character in every movie would contradict reality. On the other hand, you have Hollywood movies still whitewashing Asian characters (read my last post), so its just full of contradictions.

If being gay supports the storyline, fine. Else, its just a stupid political decision if you ask me.

Also, whats with censoring all these games? like this one, Fire Emblem Fates, Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 not coming to the West, and countless other Japanese games that can’t come to the West. Why? Because people think having sexy women is worse than raping/murdering/torturing people in the standard violent shooters that get released fairly easily. I mean seriously? Showing cleavage like in DOAX3 is worse than murdering hookers in GTA5? Wow. America… what can I say.

Next topic, Andrew Jackson is going on the back on the $20 US bill, and Harriet Tubman replacing him on the front. Now, I argued that Ulysses S Grant should have probably been replaced instead of Jackson but got a huge backlash because of how universally hated Andrew Jackson seems to be.

So why is the founder of the modern Democrat Party so reviled? Its a revisionist thing. For most of US history, Andrew Jackson was a revered President for several reasons, founding the modern Democrat ideology, reducing the national debt to zero at one time (the only President to ever do so), a war hero in the War of 1812, preventing South Carolina from seceding (Nullification Crisis) and fighting the central banking system. For that, he has been remembered by several places and names that have his name, like Jacksonville the biggest city of Florida.

Now, the only reason he seems to be hated now is because of the Trail of Tears, an Indian removal policy that Jackson was responsible for when he was President. Not only do I think that it not his sole decision, but I feel that this one reason should not overshadow his accomplishments as President. I guess I’m in the minority though, as Jackson’s reputation certainly has fallen from grace in recent times.

Just to give you an idea of how messed up American priorities are, they are fighting over who gets to use the right bathroom that only affect 0.03% of the population instead of focusing on issues like oh I don’t know, maybe restricting firearm sales, focusing on decreasing the number of mass shootings that happen, improving mental care, reining in national debt, decreasing health costs and lower tuition fees, something like that. But no, in America we fight over who gets to use the bathroom. Yup. And now you know why Trump is winning the Republican nomination.

And being fat and obese is something to be proud of? the amount of “political correctness” is getting to ridiculous levels now. There is NOTHING right about being obese, not only is it unattractive but its also a disease. Theres nothing to be gained by thinking its a good thing or being proud of. Those people will eventually die of heart failure. Not to mention that no one will click an ad that features someone like that anyways. And to add to the insanity, this story appeared in PC Magazine. That’s right. PC Mag. Talking about completely unrelated political/social crap. Terrible…

Ok, next thing is I missed my flight to Tokyo, and this missed flight has been the 4th one in the past year! I’ve now spent roughly $3000 on rescheduling and rebooking flights! which is crazy stupid, I know but here are the circumstances:

Apr 2015 – I missed my flight back to Seoul from SF because I left my apartment keys / VPN key in my apartment and it was early morning so I was locked out. I called my friend who was staying in my apartment but his phone was on silent, so I ended up missing that flight.
Oct 2015 – I missed my flight from Vienna to Split during my Europe trip. I had a lot of trouble getting to Vienna airport because I got confused by the train system and I was running late so I took a Taxi instead. The Taxi driver didn’t know English so I was slow getting to the Airport. When I got there, the airport personnel told me I had a weird seating conflict on my ticket so I had to wait in line at another counter to resolve it. After waiting in line and this was now 20min before my flight departure that person told me I had to go back to the original line counter to re-print the boarding pass because they couldn’t print boarding passes. Well by then the line was too long, and all these delays caused me to miss my flight. Yup. What really makes me shake my head is that the service attendant was angry at ME for asking her to hurry up! The flight was in 20min and I hadn’t even gone through security yet! anyone would be in a rush in that situation!
Oct 2015 – I missed my flight from Istanbul to SF, again during my Europe trip. This one was because I set my alarm on my iPad instead of my iPhone and apparently even though it was synced to Wifi, my iPad’s time settings weren’t correct, and its Istanbul time was 1 hour off from the real time. Why that would be I have no idea. Anyways of course, the alarm woke me up one hour late, and I had to reschedule the flight and stay an entire extra day at the airport. Yup, I’m not joking.
Apr 2016 – I missed my flight to Tokyo from SF, and this one was because I neglected to check the ticket the time on there was 1:35 and because Japan uses a 24 hour system, it actually meant 1:35 AM and not 1:35 PM and I got confused as I was adjusted to US time and thought it was PM. This one I was mostly at fault for not double checking but yeah, I got the times mixed up and had to re-book.

Yeah… and my friend and I did alot of great video game recordings which I will put here soon