Something to Listen to: Water Dancing Speakers

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This is going to be my first appliance review. It’s not quite like the forms of entertainment I usually talk about on this blog, but I think anybody who really likes listening to music would be interested in decorating their place with products like this one. So today, I’m talking about one of the things I got for Christmas this year: the Water Dancing Speakers from RadioShack.

The Water Dancing Speakers work like this: You get two speakers, the left one you plug into a USB port for power, the right one you connect to the first one using the provided cord. You then take an auxiliary cable (also provided,) and connect the left speaker to your audio device of choice. Then you play whatever music you’d like, and the show begins.

On top of both speakers is a glass container housing four water jets (one red, one blue, one green and one yellow). The water jets will then shoot up and fall down, resembling an equalizer playing in time to your music. I’ve embedded a video below showing how this looks. To be clear, the speakers show in the video below are of a different brand, but the effect looks the same on the brand I own.

As you can see, this makes for a very pretty water and light show and a great decoration for one’s desk. Not only are the illuminated water jets fun to watch, but they make the glass containing them glow a cool light-blue. The lights also reflect off the walls and ceiling to create a beautiful aurora borealis-like effect in my room.

However, these aren’t just lights. They’re supposed to be speakers, too. Unfortunately, it’s when you start listening to the speakers that this whole thing starts to fall apart. I tested these speakers with several pieces of music, and there were two songs that told the most about how these speakers work.

The first song I tested these with is “The Night” by School of Seven Bells. Luckily the two most prominent aspects of this track, the guitar strings and the vocals, come through fine enough. The bass and drums are also audible, but everything sounds kind of flat. This is an example of the speakers at their best.

The second song, on the other hand, provided an example of the speakers at their worst. I threw on “5/4” by Gorillaz. The loud guitar string came in fine, but the vocals became nothing more than a faint echo, overpowered by the drums and bass.

I’m not the biggest expert on how speakers work, but what I think is happening is that these speakers are processing these multi-layered MP4 files down to a single layer file. The result is that some aspects of the music will come out clearer than others. Also disappointing is that only the left speaker put out any significant sound, with the right speaker only putting out ambient-static-like audio.

By the by, none of this has been helping with the sinus headache I’ve been dealing with today.

So yeah, strictly as speakers go, these are pretty terrible. But I still find value in them as desk decorations. If you simply keep them plugged into a power source, the glass will still glow and the water jets will still occasionally bounce up and down on their own. If you’re looking for good speakers, you should definitely look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for something cool-looking to decorate your place with, this might make for a great addition.

You can find the Water Dancing Speakers from RadioShack, here.

Jingle Things: “Mr. Christmas”

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When I was a kid, my family and I would head to Oklahoma to spend Christmas with my extended family. On our way back, a common tradition of our’s would be to go through a drive-through gallery of Christmas lights. Some of the displays were funny, others touching, all of it beautiful. Some of my most moving memories involve neon lights illuminating the night sky. It may not seem like much, but it’s the little things that make it all worth it.

So believe me when I say that I get why people love coming to see the house of Mr. Christmas.

This is a documentary from last year that I just came across whilst searching for holiday-themed short films. It takes a look at California-native Bruce Mertz who, for over thirty years, has entertained local residents by decorating his house in elaborate light displays during the holiday season. People from all over the country would stop by and be mesmerized by the glowing light show, one that’s timed to touching Christmas music.

The documentary also talks about Mertz’s life story. Though I’ll let you watch it to see that for yourself. He’s had a rough go of it, but he’s persevered and found something that continues to make him happy.

All in all, it’s an interesting portrait of an interesting guy. Well timed, too. It seems after this year, he’ll be hanging it all up. If you want to see this light show in person, make an effort to do so this holiday season.  It may not seem like much, but it’s the little things that make it all worth it.

To find out more about Mr. Christmas, you can visit the film’s Facebook page here.