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Jorge Velez - Roman Birds Music Album Reviews

Inspired by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, this five-track ambient wonder finds the New York producer letting pulses and motifs overlap until the tracks resemble the inside of a lava lamp.
Jorge Velez has long been prolific, but that’s been especially true in the past few years. Like many underground electronic musicians, the New York producer has taken advantage of the internet’s self-publishing opportunities—in particular, the direct-to-fans platform Bandcamp—to sidestep label gatekeepers, streaming services, and crowded retailers. (Velez’s Bandcamp page currently numbers 26 releases.) Velez first gained recognition a dozen years ago with blippy disco derivatives for labels like Italians Do It Better, but his output has gradually become more esoteric and inward-looking. He’s still capable of ebullient club tracks, as last year’s excellent Forza attests, but many of his long, undulating machine jams sound like late-night missives to himself.

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Ninety7 Vaux Review

A review of the Ninety7 Vaux, a nifty gadget that makes your Echo Dot sound good and work without mains power.

PRICE WHEN REVIEWED
  • US$49.99
The Echo Dot is Amazon’s dinky Alexa speaker but while it’s fantastic value, it does lack the sound quality of its £150 sibling.


Enter the Vaux. It’s a battery-powered speaker that’s designed specifically to house the Echo Dot and give it the audio fidelity of the Echo and the freedom of the Echo Tap.

The Tap isn’t even on sale in the UK, so the Vaux is the best way to get a portable version of the Echo here.

PRICE
At £49.99 from Currys, the Vaux doubles the cost of an Echo Dot, but the combo is still £50 less than the big Echo.

And as far as we’re aware, there are no alternatives to the Vaux: it’s the only speaker specifically for the second-gen Echo Dot.

It comes in two colours: Ash and Black. You don’t have to match the colour of your dot since the sides aren’t visible once it’s sitting in the Vaux.

FEATURES AND DESIGN
The Vaux is so intuitive and simple it barely needs a manual, and barely has one. To install your Dot you pull back the rubber cover and move the two cables out of the way, slot in the Echo and attach the microUSB and 3.5mm minijack connectors.
Push the rubber cover home and then press the power button to start up the Dot. As long as you’re in range of the Wi-Fi network that’s set up, it will work just as if it were connected to mains power with one exception: sound quality.

Ninety7 has done a fantastic job of putting a great-sounding speaker in a pretty compact unit. You can tell immediately that it’s better than the big Echo’s speaker, both in terms of pure volume as well as audio quality. There’s more bass and better mid-range presence.

Whether you’re listening to your Flash Briefing or music, the Vaux sounds great. And now that the Echo Dot supports multi-room music, the Vaux makes even more sense.

Battery life is the only slight quibble, although at around six hours, it’s not terrible. Of course, that applies whether you’re listening to music or not.

Rather than going into standby to conserve power when you’re not listening to anything, the Vaux keeps the Dot powered up so that Alexa is always ready for your next command. So unless you turn off the speaker, you’ve got six hours before it’s time to recharge.

Ninety7 Vaux review
And if you do get into the habit of turning it off, be prepared to wait a minute or so for the Dot to boot back up and connect to Wi-Fi before you can use Alexa again.

The most cunning users, though, will get around this limitation by attaching a large-capacity power bank to their Vaux: it charges via microUSB so it’s easy to add runtime.

SPECS
  • Smart home speaker
  • Compatibility: Amazon Echo Dot (2nd gen)
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth & Wi-Fi
  • Dimensions: 162.56 x 106 x 106 mm (H x W x D)
  • Weight: 700g
  • Warranty: 1 year

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