Friday, July 30, 2021

Bucket Tech: Michi Integrated Amplifiers

Michi adds the X3 and X5 Integrated Amplifiers each delivering the range’s hallmark of reference quality performance and exceptional value.

The Michi brand, distributed exclusively by Homemation in South Africa, have added the Michi X3 Integrated Amplifier and Michi X5 Integrated Amplifier to its portfolio of amplifiers. Michi is a flagship series of products built on the history and heritage of the legendary Rotel brand. 

Michi has already successfully created a new category in the high-end audio market by producing quality products - for sound quality, design elegance and build. Officially recognised by the P5 Preamplifier and S5 Stereo Amplifier winning the 2020 - 2021 EISA Award for HIGH-END PRE/POWER AMPLIFIER.

The Michi X3 and X5 build upon the established Michi formula of offering the best-in-class audio engineering, via the exhaustive, critical evaluation of every circuit, signal path and component in combination with the in-house development of key technologies and components.

We are very excited about the introduction of the X3 and X5 Michi amplifiers” said Daren Orth, Chief Technology Officer of Rotel. “The X3 and X5 are a natural extension of the ground-breaking work we have achieved with the relaunch of the Michi brand. These Integrated Amplifiers represent the best of Rotel and represent nearly six decades of engineering excellence, with products manufactured to the highest quality standards and offered with unsurpassed value.”



Michi X3 Stereo Integrated Amplifier: R 105 990


Michi X5 Stereo Integrated Amplifier: R 145 990


Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Bucket Seat: Audi Q3 Sportback 40TFSI

Audi's Q3 has been one of those vehicles that just seemed to be there, I mean it serves a purpose in the segment as a compact SUV but in essence it is a "soccer moms van". Perfect for school rounds and the odd weekend away but it lacked that cool aspect to it, while the new shape and interior has helped it in leaps and bounds, especially with their new design language and the matrix LED lights giving the car that much more character it needed something more. Luckily the designers at Audi felt the same and decided to make a coupe derivative of the Q3, aptly named the Q3 Sportback which features a sleeker design with a sloped roof line that gives it that coupe like shape and makes it look like a baby Q8. I spent some time with this new SUV crossover from the German manufacturer and here are my thoughts on it. 


While the overall shape still remains pretty similar to the standard Q3, the Sportback's sleek roof line really morphs the vehicle into something more sportier and attractive to look at. It has presence and it feels like its ready to hit the road. The front end remains very much the same with big pronounced grille and new headlamps. The massive change comes from the roof with a lower line and it tapers off ever so slightly as you get to the rear where the gradient increases towards the boot lid. They obviously couldn't angle it that much since it would compromise the head room for the rear passengers but when looking at its side profile it does look great and symmetrical. The designers did try to enhance the gradient with the chrome work around the windows give that coupe like line. The rear end is also beefed up with a wider stance at the wheel arches. Moving to the rear, the LED headlamps follow the same style as the normal Q3 but blends well with the more slanted boot lid and the design of the rear difusser really accentuates the sporty look with a brushed aluminum tailgate border. This Q3 Sportback I had did come with the S-Line kit which I think is a must for this variant as it just adds that much more in terms of looks and stance to the car. 


The Q3 Sportback which I had on test was the current range topping 40TFSI with S Tronic gearbox, it has the same 2.0L engine that is featured in all of Audi's 40TFSI models which delivers 132kW and 320Nm of torque, while these figures are decent for a car of this size, it does feel a bit laggy when you push your foot down. Probably has to do with the torque generated rather than time on the turbo. That being said, urban driving in it is a breeze and when on the highway it copes well, as I did a long distance drive with it through KZN, with a full cabin of passengers and some luggage, it coped well and didn't feel under strain when power was required, this did however hamper the fuel economy a bit but nothing too drastic to make any alarm bells ring, end of the day you are driving a 2.0L here. The drive itself is sublime, with Audi's Quattro on demand it does help driving dynamics of the car when blasting through winding roads. 


The cabin look and feel is class, its almost a mimic of what we're seeing in the higher end Audi models and its great to see this being transferred into the lower end models in the range. I love the new integrated dash with infotainment screen  that is angled ever so slightly towards the driver making the cockpit very driver centric. The seats which were finished off in leather are super comfy and the driver along with the front passenger enjoyed the heated function which came in handy in the KZN midlands. The passengers at the back didn't have any issues as well, with plenty USB's on hand to keep everyone's phone fully charged as well as 3-zone climate control to suit all's temperature preferences. The car comes with all the lovely features, some as standard and others as option extras like your park assist, lane departure warning as well as collision alert. The car came with built-in mobile apps as well as wireless charge mat which is part of the phone package option. 


Overall the Q3 Sportback does a lot to quell the "boring" label that its sibling the Q3 has, its great to look at, fun to drive and while the engine could be a bit more enthusiastic, I'm sure Audi were holing back on that front so that this model doesn't take away too much from what the RSQ3 Sportback will bring. I enjoyed my time with it, and while the luggage space is compromised slightly due to the swooping tailgate, I still managed to get my set of golf clubs in there which is the most important part for me! This particular model will definitely have a certain target market, and it's biggest rival might be one that is from its sister company VW, with the T-Roc. The both share the same platform and offer more of less the same in terms of engine and tech but the Audi definitely has a more luxury feel to it. 


Gear Box
7-Speed S Tronic
7.8 seconds








Monday, July 26, 2021

Monday Choon: W&W x Martin Jensen ft. Linnea Schössow - Greece 2021

The classic track "Greece 2000" which was originally done by Dutch Progressive trio Three Drives On A Vinyl has been given a fresh new update and appropriately renamed "Greece 2021". The Dutch duo of Willem and Ward along with Martin Jensen and Linnea Schössow have taken the original, upped the tempo, the bassline and added their own unique twist to the track, the song has a very big room sound which is synonymous to W&W style, with big bass lines, deep synths and that awesome high energy techno sound while still maintaining that catchy sound from the original. It really is a banger that will make you want to listen to it on repeat, so turn up the volume and enjoy!

Friday, July 23, 2021

Bucket Seat: Audi RS3


Earlier this week Audi lifted the covers off its latest RS3 Sportback and Sedan. Audi claim these latest renditions of its ever popular mid-size performance cars are the best in its class in terms of acceleration and top speed. They may have a point seeing that the claimed 0-100km/h time is just under the 4 second mark, coming in 3.8 seconds. The Audi RS3 is powered by a 2.5 TFSI engine, boasting 294kW and 500Nm of torque which explains that quick off the line speed to achieve that 0-100km/h time. The cars come standard with the RS dynamic package plus which includes and adaptive suspension with damper control and ceramic brakes. Top speed on the RS3 is capped at 290km/h, all this equates to the RS3 being the best in it class and mentioned before. 

Looks wise, the cars look magnificent, sticking to that new Audi design language with that aggressive look and stance, bight bold launch colours in Kyalami Green and Tangor Red with other eye catching colours available such as Turbo Blue, Python Yellow, Glacier White, Mythos Black, Kemora Grey as well as Daytona Grey which has a pearlescent finish. The roof of the Audi RS3  Sedan can also be ordered in the contrasting Brilliant black for the first time. The cars come standard with 19-inch10-Y spoke design rims wrapped around 265/30 at the front and 245/35 at the rear, The RS Performance mode is specially calibrated to the Pirelli P Zero "Trofeo R" semi-slick tyres which are optionally available factory mounted for the first time. 

Overall this new RS3 is punching big numbers for its price group and with competitors with the likes of the Mercedes-Benz A45S AMG in its sights, this definitely will be one to beat. Everything about this car seems well thought out and packed with performance elements from head to toe, its something that Audi has been doing right in the last 3-4 years and its great to see it translate into all models in their range and not just the higher end models. No exact date as to when the new RS3 will reach our shores locally but with the new A3 launching next week, it shouldn't be too long before we see these beasts on our roads. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Bucket Style: Puma Running with Mercedes AMG Petronas F1

Sports company PUMA and Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 have teamed up to create PUMA’s fastest, lightest and most propulsive Track & Field spike to date. Together with Mercedes AMG Petronas F1, PUMA applied engineering insights from the world of Formula 1 and automotive to design the EVOSPEED TOKYO FUTURE FASTER+ and the EVOSPEED TOKYO FUTURE NITRO FASTER+ for its athletes, including Karsten Warholm, Norwegian hurdler, World Record holder, World Champion and European Champion, and André De Grasse, Canadian sprinter and Olympic silver medalist. 

To make the best spikes for our athletes, that comply with the regulations, we connected the engineers of Mercedes AGM Petronas F1 with our best footwear people,” said PUMA CEO Bjørn Gulden. “With the input from our athletes and their coaches, the team developed the best spikes PUMA has ever made.” 

Learnings and technological advances from the FASTER+ program were also passed down and integrated into other track and field spikes for athletes such as Ukrainian high jumper Yaroslava Mahuchikh, Swedish pole vaulter Armand “Mondo” Duplantis and Swiss sprinter Ajla Del Ponte

 “The FASTER+ program is about creating elite products for our elite athletes to help them excel in their sport” said Erin Longin, Global Director Run/Train at PUMA. “We believe that together with Mercedes AMG Petronas, we have created unique, innovation-led Track and Field spikes that will help our athletes run faster, jump farther and soar higher.

This collaboration with PUMA has been a natural alignment – track spikes need to run fast, and racing cars need to drive fast,” said Toto Wolff, CEO of Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport Formula One Team. “Whether you’re designing a great racing car or the perfect track spike, it comes down to engineering and putting as much performance as possible into the product. We have drawn on our experience and expertise in carbon fibre with the design, and along the way we learned that making an innovative track spike involves the same kind of complexity as a Formula One car – and it has been an exciting challenge to tackle together. Working closely with a trusted partner like PUMA, I believe this FASTER+ track and field spike is just the beginning of the collaboration between the two companies when it comes to innovation.”

The EVOSPEED TOKYO FUTURE FASTER+ was designed with 400m hurdles World Record holder Karsten Warholm and his coach. The spike’s upper is infused with carbon fiber threads and its sole has a carbon plate, engineered by Mercedes AMG Petronas, with permanent titanium pins. It weighs 135 grams. 

What’s important for me is that I run very much on my forefoot,“ said Karsten. “This is why you want the carbon fiber plate to push you in the right direction, so when you land you want the plate to bend in the right way and return the energy. When you sprint, you have a very short amount of contact time with the ground, only 1 second, so you want the plate to answer very quickly. Therefore, I want the carbon to be stiff enough that I get the return before I leave the ground. That helps me run even faster.”

To respond to the needs of Canadian 100m and 200m sprinter Andre De Grasse, the EVOSPEED TOKYO FUTURE NITRO FASTER+ includes PUMA’s proprietary NITRO Foam in addition to the Mercedes AMG Petronas engineered carbon plate for added rebound. It weighs 199 grams.

I believe that the partnership between PUMA and Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 is excellent for the brand. It’s pretty cool that I actually have the carbon fiber in my spikes that’s going into the F1 cars that Lewis Hamilton races in," said Andre. "The stiffness of the plate is just amazing because I’m able to get off the ground as quickly as possible. Having this propulsion forward at the start of the race and being able to rebound and get off the ground as quickly as possible make these spikes just perfect for my 100m race."

PUMA’s FASTER+ program applies engineering insights from every corner of sport culture to our PUMA sports products. Benefits are focused on helping our athletes excel in their sport by looking beyond their typical field of play to make them better, faster, stronger.

What I feel is very unique about this project is that it combines the best of all the worlds,” added Karsten. “It combines what PUMA knows about how to make a shoe that’s comfortable and fits your foot. It combines what Mercedes knows about carbon fiber through their Formula 1 work and it combines what my coach and I know about running and the biomechanics for running. This is very unique and it has given us the perfect product for us to work on the track - a spike that is really aggressive, with a really good forward propulsion, and it gives me all the tools I need to be the best version of myself.

FASTER+ is part of PUMA’s Only See Great’ campaign – launched in the spring of 2021 - to convey a spirit of optimism, hope and self-belief – following a difficult year and leading up to major sports moments.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Monday Choon: Leonard A & Pavel Koreshkov - Frozen Dream


We're back to normal programming this week and as ever on a Monday we bring you the latest in Electronic Dance Music, today we have an interesting collaboration from little known DJ's Leonard A of Mexico and Pavel Koreshkov of Russia. In today's exclusive we have an interview with Leonard just to find out more about himself, his music and how he and Pavel hooked up to provide us with such a great track that is Frozen Dream. 

Q & A with Leonard A

1. Who is Leonard A?

- Leonard A is a project that I started about 6 years ago, Leonard derived from my name Leonardo and the 'A' comes from my last name 'Anya'.

2. What inspired you to become a DJ/ Producer?

- I was inspired by many artists but I think that without a doubt the greatest influence was the music and talent of DJ Tiesto. At the time of the 2000s when I was just a teenager, I had his in concert 2 DVD and that was when I began to see how wonderful it was to get people on the dance floor. 

3. Being from Mexico, what is the dance music scene like there?

- It is good, to tell the truth I have heard that many of the great DJs love to come to festivals in Mexico because of the reception of the Mexican public. It is difficult for new talents to grow unlike in Europe, but believe me people support when they see that you are good at this. 

4. Your track Frozen Dream which we have featured today, you teamed up with Pavel from Russia, how did the two of your work together in producing this track track given the current restrictions the world is under?

- Well one day I received an email in my inbox from Sound Cloud and well it was from Pavel, he showed me his new track just finished and he wanted me to place some of my touches on it, although it changed more than 50% of the original structure but I think we achieved a good result and all this thanks to current technology, being able to send steam through the internet is a great advantage and communication thanks to social networks makes work much easier from your studio.

5. What can we expect next from you?

- I have not decided this year but I am thinking of taking my production to another level, more melodic trance, you know the days ago I was listening to the new album of 'Shingo Nakamura' and I was fascinated by how beautiful it sounds. I want to work on something like that and be able to start releasing some of that in Monstercat Silk. At the moment I have some tracks to finish and I hope to be able to sign them before the end of the year. Several remixes and music with great artists are coming.

The track Frozen Dream is amazing and from the first time I heard it on Andrew Rayel's weekly podcast Find Your Harmony, I was itching for it to be released and now that it has, I just wanted to share it with everyone to enjoy for themselves. 

Friday, July 16, 2021

Its been a week....

Apologies for the break in programming, its been a week many would like to forget. Scenes that played out in my home town are ones we never would like to see ever again. It's still not over as there are flare ups being reported as I type this but for the most of it, it seems to be over. The criminality and destruction was definitely uncalled for, while we understand the plight of the poor, the manner in which the riots and looting took place was utterly disgraceful. Businesses destroyed, buildings lie in tatters while smoke still bellows from the reminisce of factories and warehouses. 

Strength of communities working together to protect themselves and their loved ones during such trying times is inspiring. We shall not forget how we were let down by our Government, not now, not ever. While the criminal elements were left to do what they wanted to, without facing the mighty arm of the law gave them a sense of strength over the rest but as always the good conquers the evil and they day will come. We stood day and night protecting what is our and making sure it didn't fall victim to their treacherous acts. 

Things we take for granted became a whole new hurdle to get over, queueing in lines from the early morning, praying to get the bare essentials by the time you reached the store. For many, it was always not the case but credit goes out to the numbers for holding their own. Not giving up and for keeping it together when it was needed the most. 

We will clean up and rebuild but those responsible for this need to pay, I'm not talking about the looters, I'm talking about the criminal master minds, the puppet masters to orchestrated these devious acts and merely sat by in their mansions while the chaos unfolded. They fueled the fire by their social media posts and commended the destruction, they must pay for the many lives they've ruined.  

Monday, July 12, 2021

Monday Choon: NERVO, Tube & Berger - Lights Down Low


The NERVO twins are back and this time they've joined forces with German based duo Tube and Berger for their latest offering "Lights Down Low". The song which was released last week has already been hitting the charts with a bang, the track is a really hype up kind of feel with a classic 80s disco beat. The sexy house track has a lot of retro elements to the track from the bassline to the syths which gives it that nostalgic feel to it. The up-tempo beat keeps things groovy throughout the track with the vocals just elevating that classic sound. It's definitely a track that will get hopes up on this blue Monday so turn up the volume and enjoy!

Friday, July 9, 2021

Formula Max?

The tides are definitely turning in the world of Formula 1, what we thought would be a straight forward season for the Silver (or are they black now?) Arrows isn't really straight forward for Toto and Co. Those pesky Red Bull's are back with their leader Christian Horner to upset the apple cart, but they're only upsetting it for Mercedes-Benz and their loyal support base or which many only discovered F1 in the past 4 years because they rest of us are thoroughly enjoying the competitive nature that this season is throwing at us each and every race week. From strategies to tyre compounds, its been eventful to say the least and with "Super Max" extending his lead this past weekend to 32 points over current champion Lewis Hamilton, it ensures that this season is going to be guaranteed excitement all the way through. Lewis has to dig deeper and not just rely on thinking of the late Madiba everyday to get his 8th world championship title. While most would agree that his team need to do more to assist him, his fan base would argue that its the driver not the car, so whatever the case maybe, Mercedes -Benz in general need to find something special for the upcoming British GP at Silverstone to ensure Lewis stays in the race for that record 8th world title. 

One cannot fault the work Red Bull Racing have done, with the inclusion of their new second driver, Checo Perez, he is proving to be a worthy of that seat while not only assist the team but also Max Verstappen in getting where they are now. It's all working beautifully for them and there is no better example than the Austrian GP which saw Max qualify on pole but found himself behind after a few pitstops but having the pace and the tyres to fight back for first spot and claim victory, much to the delight of his supporters in attendance. Also how great is it to see spectators back in the stands? I know we were grateful to have racing last year but a big part of the sport is having the fans present and getting that whole atmosphere on race day, its just such a mood lifter to have them back in the stands creating that vibe for the teams and the driver. 

Another great aspect of this season is seeing the youngsters pull through, the likes of Lando Norris, Charles LeClerc, George Russell and Pierre Gasly all showing their metal and not afraid of giving it their all on the track. George was unlucky to miss out on his first points finish last week but after showing his worth while driving for Mercedes last year in a few races, we all know the potential talent that lies there. Norris has been simply sublime so far, out racing his much more experienced team mate Daniel Ricciardo for most of this season. Getting his Mclaren to 3rd position at the Austrian GP and finishing 5th the weekend before that only shows that there is grit behind that boyish charm. Many are ear marking him to take over the mantle from Lewis as Britains next great F1 driver and you can see why but if Russell finds himself a competitive car, it could be an interesting battle between those two. 

I tweeted on Saturday that the less said about Ferrari, the better and truth be told they didn't have the worst race but as a life long fan, seeing that Red car finishing in 5th and 8th place does not feel great. Credit to Carlos for fighting for that 5th spot in what is a tough race for the Scudeira as the track is pace focused and didn't suit the car at all but the guys in Maranello have some serious head scratching to do. For the other teams like Aston Martin Racing, Alpha Tauri and Williams, they also have their work cut out watching the front runners dominate week in and week out but the mini battles that occur in the midfield do prove to be rather entertaining as well. It's these battles that add character to the overall race as it would just down right boring watching the top two teams win over and over again. The season is set up nicely and we're not even halfway through yet, I cannot wait to see how the rest of this race calendar plays out. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Bucket Seat: New BMW 2 Series Coupe

There's a new BMW 2 Series Coupe, its only the second such car in BMW's history and seeing how popular the old model was, this one should gather the same amount of interest and possibly translate into sales for the German motor manufacturer. If you've even driven the current 2 Series you know what a good car it is, it harks back to the history of BMW's 2002 and CS Coupes, short wheel based cars that are meant for sheer  driving pleasure with a bit of fun. While the 2 Series did aim at a specific market, the M versions of the car seemed to be quite popular with the petrol heads, the M240i, M2, M2 Competition and most recently the limited edition M2 CS were by far the favourite models from the 2 Series line up. With the short-wheel base, couple with a powerful engine that has rear wheel drive, all this put together can only equate to endless amount of tyre spinning jubilation. 

This new BMW 2 Series looks like it has the making of all of that and more, with its new imposing design that has sporty proportions added bulk to areas where its needed. Newly designed BMW kidney grilles which are sleek and vertically arranged with active airflaps in place of the standard grilles, which is molded in a hexagonal shape for the front end, the side air intakes are triangular in shape and give great contrast to what we normally come to expect from BMW. While some of the designs which are coming out of Munich might be controversial to some, I think they've done a splendid job on this new 2 series coupe. It's miles better than the 2 Series Gran Coupe which I still don't really understand but maybe that is because I haven't driven one yet. I guess the biggest talking point on this new 2 Series is the rear with its LED rear lights that has a three-dimensional sculpting, the lights go with the hexagonal theme and they sort of remind me of the E90 3 Series tail lights. 

Engine wise, the new 2 Series Coupe will be available in 3 variants, the 220i which is a 2.0L, 4 cylinder twin-power-turbo that churns out 135kW and 300Nm of torque. A Diesel variant in the 200d guise that is also a 2.0L, 4 cylinder twin-power-turbo that delivers 140kW with 400Nm of torque and the range topping M240i which has a 3.0L, 6 cylinder, twin-power-turbo that generates 285kW and 500Nm of torque, this results in a 0-100km/h time in just 4.3 seconds. The M240i also comes with M Sport differential fitted as standard along with BMW's all-wheel drive system xDrive. Lift-related dampers fitted as standard, electronically controlled dampers will be available as an option with the adaptive M suspension. The M240i comes with BMW's 8-Speed Steptronic automatic gearbox that ensures accurate changes for optimal performance. 

Overall its a very sleek look package from BMW and one that is sure to excite many, the car is due in SA in the first quarter of next year.