NF Audio NA2 earphones review

[Tiempo de lectura 5 m]
NF Audio NA2 earphones and red iPod Shuffle.
NF Audio NA2 earphones and red iPod Shuffle.

I’m no audiophile, but I know how I like my sound.

I was searching for replacement to my old, soldered and twice broken Sony MDR-EX500 which to me were perfection incarnate, and let me tell you, choosing earphones these days is terribly difficult; before, all I had to do was enter the Sony Shop (or stores that sold decent earphones) and chose one expensive enough to ensure decent sound, but never the more expensive models. Now, you have hundreds of millions of options! It’s ridiculously tiring.

Of course, if you have the money you just order a few and be done with it. Or, if you don’t care about audio you… well, no, you’ll be on the Apple, Skull Candy, Beats, and Bose pages, not here.

So, across the years I’ve found I like my audio just like those EX500s sounded: powerful (13.5mm driver!), with a slight V or W, not sibilant, with bass (but I’m no mofo basshead, you know the type, those idiots that make their cars reverberate with sub-bass and ruin all other frequencies, and the sleep of 5 or 7 city blocks), on the fast-ish side, not terribly descriptive or analytical —my most used sources don’t merit it, and actually would suffer from too much analysis— but still transparent and clear, and I’d say with soundstage, but IEMs have little of that… comparing them to open cans, of course.

I’d say that’s the definition of —at least to me— the perfect driver.

I tried upgrading them once years ago with some some Sony with four balanced armatures per side as drivers, and instantly hated BAs, but this time I was open to pick an hybrid model, with both a dynamic driver and one or two balanced armatures (there’s models with 25 BAs per side, I think), assuming that about a decade of progress had made BAs listenable.

Considering all that, the process of choosing is crushing, took months. Firstly, I had to catch up with latest theories and schools of thought to have a general idea of what to expect in this postmodern world (1 tesla magnets! A powerful full-sized speaker system reaches that!). Then I had to chose very broadly from the brands that kept being mentioned in the forums. Then I had to read the individual long reviews.

That’s the most difficult part, because you see, you can’t truly trust a review from a random forum member; you have to read (and hopefully there’ll be some) his other reviews in order to have an idea of what he likes and how he’s reviewing. The task was to try and eliminate some of the subjectivity from the individual reviews of the several items I chose from a few brands. Adding to the difficulty is the fact that there’s always opposed reviews, one guy can say whatever and the next one precisely the opposite.

You also have to read some reviews from items out of your budget (up and down), and items you won’t buy for whatever reason (say, they’re ugly, from a brand you don’t like, don’t fully fit your criteria). Same purpose as above.

On top of knowing what type of sound I was looking for, I had other considerations, such as they should work for running and cycling —which seemed very hard as I wasn’t able to find too many cyclists and runners interested in decent audio, them crowd is the Bluetooth and ultra bass one, inferior race such as it is.
Another consideration was that the damned cable should be orders of magnitude better than the stupid Sony cable that always fails. Always.
The composition of the cable —its isotopes, number of electron orbits, and covalent bonds— is a myth everyone should stop spreading.

After reading tomes of obscure and arcane privileged knowledge, after asking for advice a few times and in a few places (that’s how you play a decent RPG), after having chosen The One a couple of times and then changing it, I arrived at the NF Audio NA2.

They don’t look as garish and tasteless as some of the metal multi-driver monstrosities, nor as plain, boring and generic as the BT buds —I liked its frosted translucent looks; cable seemed resistant enough and its conector pins are covered in a glove of plastic, increasing durability; it came with twice the usual tips. Its drivers have a “dual cavity”, which probably is just marketing, and the power of its magnets is over 9000 —I remained worried about the bass, wrongfully thinking it’s dependent on the driver’s diameter.

I was truly surprised when I hit play, at random, and ‘I Want to Break Free’ from Queen blasted mid-track. It truly was a blast! “Blown away” say too lightly (because the overuse) the people who can barely write.

The volume was low, of course, the blast was a wall of all the sounds, all the frequencies, all sounding perfectly and powerfully, clearly and spatiated, not too intimate, not lacking anywhere. More songs followed, that detailed (remember, to me, always to me) sub-bass! Those fast-ish and powerful bass hits, textured! The mids… OK, not ultra loud, a bit relaxed. The highs there, sharp… but not at all tiring! Every genre!

‘Could it be that they’re this good?’ I was constantly thinking.

From the first listen I realized they were better, considerably so, than my EX500s, not a question about it. And now, a couple of weeks in, listening a few times (I don’ need no over analyzing; I trust my ears), I’m still amazed at how damn good they sound.

And they have power. Here’s a table for you to grasp what 1 tesla is:

In space: 0.1-10 nanoteslas.
Earth’s magnetic field: 0.00058 T.
Sunspot: 0.15 T.
Powerful speaker: ~1 T.
Nuclear Magnetic Resonance equipment: >7 T.
Neutron star / magnetar: ~100 megateslas/~100 gigateslas.

I took my time replacing my Sonys, I knew what a hard task was going to be, and it could end tragically (ha, ‘I Want to Break Free’ came up! I utterly love those kind of chance’s little coincidences)… Maybe pushing a bit the mids to the front, for more powerful vocals, but not at the cost of more treble, like I guess in the NM2s).
So, it’s been a while for me without listening to IEMs and that could obviously skew my impressions.

The oh-so-boring cliché of “they’ve made me love my music again” does not feel far fetched.

All in all, I’m very satisfied with my purchase, I won’t be looking for replacement for the foreseeable future, and totally recommend them for long, enjoyable listens. They sound so good you have to stop thinking and start actively listening and enjoying.

The tips do make a difference, I’d rather the bass ones as I find the balanced ones too open and with less body. Spinfits don’t really work with these because the sound becomes too light and transparent, which is a shame because they’re much more comfortable.
The passive sound isolation is quite OK, even with no sound you have to take them out to talk; I’ve tried them without music in very loud environments and they block the offending noise easily.

For cycling they’re too windy, useable, but you have to up the volume, lowering your safety. I haven’t tried running yet but I expect them to bee windy too.

Transport case is tight, it fits my iPod Shuffle too, but I think that’s about it; I just ordered a Wiwoo U2 and will see if it fits.
Tips could be softer and stickier, like Spinfits, but I think then they wouldn’t sound as full-bodied.
Other reviewers have complained about stiff ear guides, to me they work perfectly, comfortable to the point of not noticing them even after hours.

I thank here everyone that took the time to answer my questions on the different platforms I reached.

Addendum:

After almost two months of enjoyment, I can say that the NF Audio NA2 IEMs can take a serious amount of volume and EQing.

It’s scary how loud these things can go, but without any distortion, you just hear more and more and drown in your music. And equalizing them, they can take a ridiculous amount of bass (or mids, or highs). I’ve never experienced earphones that behave like these

The carrying case can’t take my Wiwoo U2 (which sounds better than any iPod I’ve owned, and has no problem driving the NA2 to ridiculous sound pressure).

Secundus addendum:

The chin adjustment thing (made from aluminium) is worthless, it’s too lose and it doesn’t stays in place at all.

*****

De Ciclovías y Bolardos

[Tiempo de lectura 5 m]

Este post nace porque sugerí que dieran el rol en bici por la ciudad para enterarse que tan mal está, que tan inseguro es, que experiencia a veces de espanto resulta. Y obviously me invitaron a acompañarlos.

Se puede hacer, pero no es necesario; no soy un candidato al que se le tenga que exigir, en su cara y en el lugar de los hechos, y es algo bien fácil de comprobar por uno mismo.

Entonces, a guisa de explicación, desde mi posición de ciclista de toda la vida:

Es muy sencillo: como automovilistas creemos saber qué está mal en calles y movilidad, porque, claro, nosotros sí sabemos manejar. Todo menos nosotros, ¿no? O sea “pinche tráfico”, pero somos incapaces de ver que el tráfico somos justamente nosotros.
El tráfico no es un ente intangible que vive en el éter. Somos nosotros y nuestros coches. Ah, pues que los demás dejen de usarlos tanto, ¿no? ¿Yo por qué?

No estás atorado en el tráfico. Eres el tráfico.

No son los baches, ni los semáforos desincronizados, ni que no había señalización de la señalización (chiste local, ya se imaginarán), tampoco es la falta de carriles (demostradísimo que más carriles = más trafico)…

No.

Es tanto puto coche. ¡Ver Ámsterdam, carajo!

Misma cantidad de gente, distintos medios de transporte.

Y, ¡no! Ámsterdam no hizo todo bien a la primera “pork es dk aya si ahy la cultura”. ¡Ámsterdam no era Ámsterdam! Déjense de tonterías, si no saben nada de sociología, historia, y hasta de antropología, sepan al menos que los grandes grupos de gente se comportan igual en todos lados y en todas las épocas. O sea, los putos Europeos no “tienen más cultura” ni “son genéticamente superiores” a nosotros; no digan sandeces.

¿Cómo los holandeses obtuvieron sus ciclovías?

Como ciclistas, esto resulta tan insultantemente evidente (que es tanto coche el problema, digo), que sobrepasa cualquier explicación racional y tenemos que concluir que a fin de cuentas, los humanos somos tan solo unos changos un poquito más listos que los otros changos.

¿Qué quiero decir? Ya que no saben ni leer ni escribir ni pensar, y usar el Google es una imposibilidad física para ustedes, analfabetas funcionales, ya que jamás se tomarán la molestia de investigar nada, pues que de menos escuchen y crean nuestra perspectiva, más de quienes somos ciclistas y la reencarnación de Senna: las chingadas ciclovías están bien. No les faltan estudios. Los jodidos bolardos son correctos. Las zonas 30 con fotomultas exorbitantes son una necesidad. Nada de esto necesita mayor justificación (*).

Incluso, para ser honestos, más estudios es lo que menos les conviene (en el corto plazo, obvio —ciclovías y bolardos mejoran la ciudad para todos) a los cochistas: Estos estudios demostrarían que deben hacerse más y más anchas. Que debe haber menos cajones de estacionamiento, y todos con parquímetros. Que el estacionamiento (particularmente en el centro) debe ser carísimo. Que el centro debe ser peatonal. Que debe haber zonas 30 por toda la ciudad y fotomultas exorbitantes. Que debemos poner más bolardos y de los que detienen camiones a velocidad, no de popote como los actuales.

Todo esto lo están haciendo las ciudades europeas, que obvio ustedes ni por enterados; sí, esas ciudades que los poblanitos tanto maman y desean ser como ellos —indios conquistados— en todo menos en lo que represente la más mínima “incomodidad” personal.

Pues, es que es neta que no piensan ni en defensa propia, ¿qué esperan que les digan esos supuestos estudios que tanto exigen a lo bruto? ¿Es en serio que piensan dirán que “En esta calle no pueden circular las bicicletas, porque le estorban su entrada al vecino”, o bien “Esta calle no debe tener límite de velocidad porque el vecino tiene prisa para ir a dejar a sus hijos a la escuela”, o algo como “Aquí no debe haber bolardos para proteger a los peatones porque el vecino sí sabe manejar, no como los demás”, o quizás “No pondremos parklets ni pastito pues reduciría los cajones de estacionamiento, y el vecino tiene dos coches”?

¿Están seguros que quieren más estudios? Ridículos.

La ciudad es de los autos.
Sin darnos cuenta, hemos arruinado nuestras ciudades con los autos.

Confíen en nosotros, pues, ¡si es pa todos, chingaos!

Pues ¿a poco creen que nos gusta vivir en una ciudad que apesta a pavimento, llantas, humos de combustión, llena de ruido automotriz, seca, que no se puede caminar?

Flojitos y cooperando, lo que está del otro lado estará bien chingón, ya verán.

(*) Se escucha intransigente decir que todo esto no requiere ni estudios ni justificaciones, pero es que, ¿cuándo la infraestructura cochista ha pedido u ofrecido lo mismo? Las calles se ponen, los segundos pisos se avientan, y todo sin preguntarle a nadie y arruinando nuestras ciudades.
Y, claro, los estudios son buenos, no estoy diciendo que no se hagan; estoy diciendo que ustedes no tienen ni idea de lo que están pidiendo.

No se puede cambiar sin afectar la mentalidad e infraestructura cochista. Justamente el cambio positivo es reducir esto.

Por si no ha quedado claro, decir que las ciclovías están malhechas y mejor que las quiten, decir que los bolardos solo hacen más tráfico, decir que mejor hubieran puesto la ciclovía en la otra calle, exigir estudios imposibles que creemos justificarán nuestra necedad, y decir que el ejemplo de Ámsterdam no vale por que allá sí hay la cultura, son no-argumentos.

Strangest of All: War, Ice, Egg, Universe

[Tiempo de lectura 3 m]Empecé a leer una nueva antología de ciencia ficción, Strangest of All: Anthology of Astrobiological Science Fiction, editada por Julie Nováková, que iba a presentarse en la conferencia BEACON del Instituto Europeo de Astrobiología este año, pero por el COVID no se pudo, y decidieron sacarla de todos modos (descargable gratuitamente en el sitio).

Strangest of All: Anthology of Astrobiological Science Fiction

La primera historia, War, Ice, Egg, Universe, por G. David Nordley, author and consulting astronautical engineer, Hugo and Nebula nominee, terriblemente infantil, como si fuera de la época de oro de la CiFi (¡pero fue publicada en 2002!): aliens con comportamientos humanos, nombres de objetos y conceptos que hacen alusión a las diferencias morfológicas entre ellos y nosotros (thorax pouch, abdomen belt, sistema numérico base 8), en vez de diferencias un poquito más pensadas. O sea, ¿de qué sirve tener una especie alienígena en otro mundo, si va a reaccionar y pensar idéntico a nosotros? Sloppy writing.

La historia narra una guerra entre dos bandos (aparentemente de la misma especie) de “arañas” Europanas (de Europa, la luna de Júpiter), y el contacto con nosotros.

All these worlds are yours except Europa

Siempre ignorando al Monolito en Júpiter.

El caso es que pudo haber sido la historia de una guerra entre dos bandos humanos cualesquiera, en cualquier momento de nuestra historia, y hubiera sido lo mismo. No aporta nada a la ciencia ficción que incontables autores no hayan escrito ya.

Al final, ponen las notas del autor:

«Are these aliens “too human” in character of not in form? At some point, one has to admit that one is writing a story for human beings to read and about beings to whom they will be able to relate. But I think there is an argument for a certain universality in the underlying motivational programming of intelligent beings; we see much of ourselves in the behavior if life around us, even that white last common ancestor lived hundred of millions of years ago. One might expect to see reciprocity, hierarchies, collective agression, and even sacrifice for the sake of the greater gene pool. Such trails have survival value here and may have survival value elsewhere as well.»

Que demuestran lo que digo, que es una común y corriente historia humana sin más, que el autor fue incapaz de imaginar inteligencias realmente diferentes a las terrestres… Y es esto justamente lo que hizo a Stanislaw Lem el más grande escritor de ciencia ficción alienígena que haya existido; él sí que podía salirse de nuestras limitantes antropocéntricas y escribir historias sobre aliens incomprensibles (los aliens, no las historias). Sus extraterrestres son realmente de ramas de la vida distintas a la nuestra (y por nuestra me refiero a toda la de la Tierra), sus motivaciones ilegibles, la comunicación con ellos imposible e inalcanzable, inútil.

Me sacó una sonrisa adolescente por su inocencia y transparencia, me recordó a tantas novelas y cuentos cortos que leía de niño. Pero no pasa de ahí, simple e inocente, para niños. Mala ciencia ficción.

Una estrellita (a esta historia solamente, no a la antología completa) y eso nomás por la nostalgia.

*

La destrucción de las playas mexicanas: Chemuyil y Xcacel

[Tiempo de lectura 2 m]¿Qué pasa cuando tenemos un gobierno de ignorantes corruptos que no creen en la Crisis Climática? ¿Cuando, otra pinche vez, los intereses del capitalismo se imponen sobre todo?

¿Qué no nos ha quedado claro que justo eso, la ignorancia, la corrupción, y el capitalismo, han arruinado al mundo?

¿Es posible que a estas alturas sigamos sufriendo como unos cuantos destruyen, irremediablemente y para siempre, todo el mundo, por simple dinero, y con el permiso del gobierno?

Dicen los imbéciles de las secretarías involucradas que en la Manifestación de Impacto Ambiental se «cumple con la normatividad vigente y la preservación del entorno natural».

¿Qué cómo? ¡Sus putas normas no sirven ni para limpiarse el trasero! ¡Corruptos e ineptos de mierda!

¿Qué no ya nos había quedado claro que YA NO HAY PLAYAS ASÍ? ¡YA NO HAY, PUTA MADRE! ¿Otra vez a poner otro gigantesco y asqueroso hotel de mierda?

¿Es neta, gobierno de payasos corruptos y analfabetas?

La destrucción de todo por la ganancia monetaria. Venderlo todo por venderlo. Quemarlo todo por quemarlo. Consumirlo hasta que solo quede basura, plástico, mierda.

Xcacel estaba calificada como ¡la mejor playa del mundo!
La ignorancia y avaricia del gobierno y empresarios, el afán de poner ese monstruo de hotel (¡ocupa TODA la playa!), a arruinarlo todo una vez más.

Se habían negado estos permisos ante presión de grupos ambientalistas: ahora López Obrador y Víctor Toledo Manzur al mando de la SEMARNAT los otorgaron al consorcio hotelero Grupo Posadas, permitiendo la destrucción absoluta de Chemuyil y Xcacel.

O sea, ¡el nivel de la #4T es PEOR que el de Peña Nieto!

Estoy que lloro de rabia, impotencia. Deseo la muerte más larga y dolorosa por cáncer de COVID-19 en el ano a los involucrados.

No puedo ni imaginar que sienten los ambientalistas verdaderos, esos que empresarios y gobiernos mandan matar uno por semana.

Merecemos la extinción.

Los reportajes por Noticaribe y Aristegui Noticias.
Aquí una petición en Change.org (aunque dirigida a una que ya no es secretaria), y aquí otra.

Casio Duro MDV-106 review and ideas

[Tiempo de lectura 9 m]

Casio Duro MDV-106 review and ideas.

With the Duro (meaning hard in Italian and Spanish), Casio has the opportunity of achieving something truly special, and they’re so very close it’s baffling they failed the goal —which of course we don’t know what it really was, aside from selling units.

So, listen up, Casio, I’m going to tell you my opinion on this great wristwatch and how could you achieve immortal greatness and eternal glory with your next iteration.

Some previous Marlin (the Duro’s fan mascot name: every legendary diver has a fan given mascot name, this one cheats somewhat, because there’s the marlin up front) was this monstrosity:

Casio MDV102, one of many Marlins.

Which is, let’s face it, quite cheesy, with its huge illuminator button —even worse than the Omega Seamaster’s laughable manual He valve— the knobby-like-a-tractor bezel edge, and 4 lines of text. It’s very clearly a Casio, and that’s not bad per se, but if you’re making a diver to compete with all the divers out there (and I’m not talking ISO 6425: the Marlin is not a proper diver, it’s a desktop diver, a fashion diver… Type Diver as in the great Japanese tradition of naming things), you need to ditch a bit the funny funky childish look.

Then, Casio has a whole lineup of Duros with chronographs and whatnot in their MDV3xx:

Which is also what you’d expect from Casio, endless iterations on the same subject with the goal of appealing to everyone and land a sell. But somewhere along their road I asume they had a designer, who must be elevated in range and position —he should be given rum and treasure— for he had a vision and they managed this watch:

Casio MDV106. The only proper Marlin.

If you know anything about diver watches, you’ll immediately notice this is no mere Casio Cheap Diver, you’ll notice this is a Submariner homage, which in turn is a Fifty Fathoms —as worn by Jacques Cousteau— copy!

The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms is the archetypal Diver’s watch, the very first one, but the look was popularized by Tudor and Rolex (in the 1950s!!!) and it has been so successful people relate it with “diver watch” with just a side glance, every brand out there has their interpretation on the Submariner (even Ferragamo ffs! /facepalm), and cemented Divers as a pillar of horology (Divers, Chronographs, Field, Dress and Fashion being the main branches into which watches divide).

You’ll notice the rotating bezel, hashed to 15 and every 10, the 12 o’clock lume pip, the big legible hands and function check (lume pip to know your watch is still ticking in the dark) in the seconds hand.

Casio’s version is incredibly well done for less than 40USD and this is why we have to forgive them everything wrong with the Duro, but them being who they are, I’m sure they will do better, so here are the things I’ll improve if I were Casio:

Things to improve for the Duro to become a Japanese legend:

Improve finishing, just a bit.

Is a bit hard to capture it but this is enough for you to get the idea: the lugs have 3 visible faces, a polished side one, a polished inclined small one (between red arrows) and a brushed horizontal one. The small polished ones are different in width, left one being wider. And this is not a small mistake, I’m amazed no one has mentioned in their reviews: this is very noticeable once you know. It’s a result for the need to accommodate the crown guards, and I think this is a very easy mistake to fix, Casio needs just adjust and improve the CNC or whatever method they use and make them more symmetrical. Of course you can let it go because the watch costs less than 40USD. But there’s an important improving opportunity.

I’m going to obviate the price thing for the remainder. It’s clear if they improved all the points I’m making, then it would cost 5 times more… but one can dream.

Cheap movement.

Apparently (I haven’t opened mine), Casio uses a cheap Miyota (owned by Citizen) for this, and it shows: hour hand is almost always off: when the minute hand reaches 12, the hour hand is either a few minutes behind or a few minutes ahead, it’s seldom spot on. The second hand also doesn’t hit all the marks all the time: on my 12 marker it lands perfectly half the time, and almost perfectly half the time —it’s a thing to live with with most quartz movements in whichever price range. When I bought mine, this problem was so blatant —even considering the price!— I had to return it and ask for another one, which came better, but still imperfect. Even when setting the time you can tell this is a very cheap movement, the crown stem feels wobbly, the hands jump all around the dial. This is expected but to Casio I say this:

You have one of the greatest traditions as far as modern watch brands go, you continuously produce high tech, top of the line movements, digital and analogs (your G-Shocks and ProTreks are unmatched by whatever Swiss brand you care to name, what you’re doing with the Oceanus line is amazing). Your innovation, research and development, and technology creation are the best in the field—and other fields!
By now you must understand your legions of loyal fans expect you to make an accurate (as in the hands hit the marks), tough, reliable, and inexpensive quartz movement yourselves, and not to rely on cheap Miyotas.

I’m not asking for a mechanical movement —you’re Casio, not Seiko— just a decent, accurate quartz. This is expected of you.

Several design issues.

  • The watch is a monster. It’s huge, it needs to be around 41mm bezel outer diameter, 45mm lug to lug to be perfect. Wearability is an issue, you’re always taking care of not hitting it against everything, a nato-zulu strap is unusable because the watch ends up skyscrapper-high. It took me about three weeks to get somewhat accustomed to it, which is ridiculous.
  • Date is very hard to read because its minuscule size, so much it’s almost unusable.
  • The crown is very small, this is a tool watch, it needs a bigger crown. Also, it looks silly.
  • Underside of lugs is not evenly finished: on mine one of the lug edges is almost razor sharp; another one I use to fillet my steaks. A better sanding-finishing work needs to be done.
  • Lume is definitely a sad laugh. Pictures may show otherwise (because cameras are much more sensitive than your eyes), but the lume is practically non-existant. Yes it flares right after the sun hits it and looks quite bright, yes it lasts the whole night, but unusable: you need complete darkness. This is usual of Casio’s Lumibrite, but if Citizen and Seiko can do better at any price point, they can too.
  • The coin edge could be better, just take a look at the beautiful edge on the Seiko Submariner (SKX031) pictured below to get an idea of how to do a proper and beautiful coin edge. While you’re at it, look how well balanced that Seiko looks: that’s because it’s smaller and the crown is bigger. It would be the perfect diver but for a missing 12 o’clock lume pip and the usual Seiko issue: missaligned chapter ring / bezel.
  • Change the name! With Seiko, fans name the watches because the official way is preposterous, and with this one the obvious naming is the Casio Marlin, because you know, it has a marlin printed on the dial and engraved on the back. So ditch the Duro moniker which is hideous.
  • Remove all the text. Ditch the “WR 200M” legend below the marlin. Be classy, not like Rolex and its dial text-walls. We know you Casio also love printing everything the watch can do on the dial, but this is pretending to pass as a classy diver… Oceanus anyone?
  • Of course, the movement. Why we have to put up with a cheap Miyota instead of a proper Casio Tough Solar is beyond me. While you’re at it, throw in MultiBand 6 and WaveCeptor and we’ll be talking.

Design issues that are OK.

The previous are the issues that need to get fixed in order for the Duro to become a legend on it’s own, Casio can start something as special as the SKX007s. There are other issues that their fixing would increase the price several times, so they can stay as they are and I’m just going to mention them for the sake of it.

  • Aluminium bezel insert. Well, duh! A ceramic one is out of the question —also, to me a ceramic bezel doesn’t look good on a tool watch, too flashy, too girly. The lume at 12 obviously needs to be upgraded as mentioned.
  • Mineral glass crystal. Casio’s mineral glass is particularly soft and you can be sure it will get a scracth or two in the first minutes of use, but a sapphire one would increase the price too much. Not even Seiko uses sapphire in their entry level diver’s.
  • Clickety-clackety could be better, it feels spongy and has a lot of play when rotating (but stays firmly in place when left alone). Grip is poor because the edge is too soft and the notches are too close to one another, this is an issue that’s solved with a better coin edge as mentioned.
  • 120 clicks are perfect, don’t listen to the absurd Citizen 60 clicks crowd. After getting a Citizen with 60 clicks (and after using 120 on the Casio’s and previously on a TAG Heuer for years), I now think otherwise: 60 clicks is much better because you can get to the desired point faster, most times with just one swipe (it also helps the Citizen I got has a grippier bezel).
  • Buckle says “stainless steel China” which is annoying, I have a couple of replacement bracelets for G-Shock that read “Casio Japan”.
  • Dial is warped? On the applied indices and under hard light, you can see the dial is not perfectly finished, it appears warped around the indices, but it’s really not a big deal and improving it would increase pricing too much. At least the warping doesn’t look like a mistake and it’s evenly distributed across the indices. The sunburst is passable—if barely visible.
Casio Duro MDV106.

Too bad the height increases to unacceptable levels with a ZULU and twice as much with a NATO.

So, there you have it Casio. You could end up with a legend of a watch with the next Casio Marlin! Oh, and here’s a couple extra ideas to finish convincing you, like improving the line-up:

  • Casio Duro Marlin – This one, a three-hander 41-42mm improved beauty. As is in blackish sunburst; add pearl sunburst and Caribbean blue sunburst.
  • Casio Duro Sailfish – Four-hander GMT. Dark ocean blue dial with red GMT hand. Keep diver’s bezel.
  • Casio Duro Swordfish – Six-hander chronograph. Inverted panda (black dial with white chrono sub-dials), red chrono hands. Keep diver’s bezel, add tachy scale in minute ring / rehaut—although you could do away with the tachy scale, the most useless and unused complication ever.

How about it, eh, Casio? I’m I a genius or what?

My personal opinion.

I’m quite happy with the watch, I’ve been in the hunt for a proper diver since after I got my TAG Heuer Formula 1 more than 10 years ago (which is not a diver), and found the Marlin (we fans are not calling it Duro anymore, just so you know) by mere chance on a YouTube review; previously I was considering a Seiko SKX or Sea Monster, or a new micro brand like a Zelos / Axios or a resuscitated brand like a Zodiac or even an Oris 65, but this Casio does it. You really can’t believe they managed to produce such a watch at such a price.

It checks all:

  • Lume pip at 12 and almost decentish lume.
  • Unidirectional rotating diver’s bezel.
  • 3mm width crystal.
  • Screw-lock caseback.
  • Screw-down crown.
  • 200 bar WR.
  • Date window.

And then some:

  • Faceted hands.
  • Applied indices! And they are gorgeous!
  • Polished / brushed surfaces.
  • Engraved caseback with logo.
  • Ultra cool logo! (But not the original marlin, which wasn’t turning but straight, and the watches were ugly digital cheap FW-91 copies.)

Also, of course, I’ve always loved Casio. They’ve been part of my life since I was a little kid and received my first Casio Calculator; my Riseman Dragon is always with me while exercising and on vacation and it has survived huge waves, bicycle crashes on the mountain and pavement, and all sorts of abuse.

I read I’m late, I even tried to send this by all Casio contact forms I found, but the second next iteration of this watch could be something truly special.

I realize this won’t happen. Casio aimed to a market zone that really haven’t got a diver watch, if you wanted one you had to put up with a more expensive entry-level price, so why would they lose that market when they have no competition there?

And it’s significant: if they fixed all the things I listed, the Marlin would suddenly cost 5 times more. I’m sure most won’t look any further…
But some’ll do… I just ordered a Citizen Excalibur to replace my Marlin because precisely it’s good, but not good enough. It offers way more than any other diver for the price, yes, but it’s still not what’s expected of a diver (yes yes, ISO certification costs money on top of what they’ll spend making the watch, and perhaps it’s not fair to compare it with an ISO diver, but if you look like a diver and act like a diver…)

So, all in all, unbeatable for the price, if you like divers, you’ll ve very happy with the Marlin.

***½

It’s the lume and the bloated size, I can live with everything else, but not with the terrible lume, you just know you wont be able to tell the time an hour after dark —lume pip much earlier. That’s the raison d’être of a diver, that’s why I’m changing it for the Excalibur (which is damn amazing; you can tell the time in the dark two days after it got charged. It’s insane— and it’s no Seiko!)