Sometimes the iLive HD Sound Bar Taking part in A number of Units & has a Cellphone Sub – Assessment

I have often written about the poor-ish sound quality of many HDTVs on the market. You pay for great visual performance, but it often is a bit sub-standard when it comes to the audio. In cases like these, you may want to invest in a soundbar to bring your audio experience up to the level of the visual one. But, sound bars can be expensive. A great way to start is with more of an entry-level soundbar like the iLive HD Sound Bar which also comes with a wireless subwoofer (model: ITBSW399B). Not only is the sound quite decent, but it also offers a variety of audio connection options. (*Disclosure below)
There is probably some unwritten formula about how much you should spend on a soundbar based on the cost of your HDTV. I’m guessing, however, that you don’t want to spend more on your audio than you do on your TV. But there are various things to consider when adding a soundbar to your audio/visual setup. Obviously, the sound quality is #1, but you should consider the flexibility of the soundbar as well. How does it connect? What types of devices can it connect to? Does it fit into your viewing environment? Is the setup easy?

The iLive HD Sound Bar is one of those devices that won’t break your budget but will still provide you with an “upgrade” to whatever you have “out of the box.” In my testing, I don’t think it will beat out some of the higher-end soundbars out there, but if you are looking to add a better audio experience to your viewing environment, or perhaps you have a child heading off to college, and they need a multi-function speaker that can do more than just connect a TV, definitely check out the iLive solution.
Multiple Audio Connections
One of the great things about the iLive HD Sound Bar is the fact that you are not limited to one type of audio connection. In fact, you can pair Bluetooth devices like a smartphone, tablet, or laptop quite easily. This makes it ideal for that college student, as I mentioned. Instead of also having to get a Bluetooth speaker for their audio around the dorm room, the iLive HD Sound Bar gives you that option to play their music loud – provided it’s not after-hours or during study time.

But, if you use the (included) optical digital audio cable and your HDTV supports an optical audio output, that is the option to take when you connect your HDTV. While the iLive speaker only has 2.1 channel stereo sound (with the .1 being the subwoofer), I do feel that is more than enough for using this sound bar for watching movies or binge-watching the latest Marvel series.
What if you have an older device that doesn’t have Bluetooth or optical? There are connectivity options for that as well; two of them, in fact. There is a 3.5mm Aux-in port to allow you to connect something like an iPod (remember those?) or just use the audio-out from an older smartphone. And, if you want to connect something perhaps a bit bigger (or older), there are even RCA stereo audio inputs. RCA connections are good for those TVs which don’t have optical connections.
Remember though, the best two ways for audio connections, I feel, are the optical-in and the Bluetooth connections. If you have other devices connected to your HDTV like a game console, media streaming device, or something similar, connect those directly to your HDTV and then use the optical connection for the best sound.
Thumping with the Wireless Subwoofer
Many of the entry-level soundbars don’t include a subwoofer. As a result, the bass can sometimes be a bit lacking. Personally, I like the bass. It adds to the viewing experience, especially if you like watching action movies as I do. So, when shopping for a soundbar, definitely look towards getting one that has an external subwoofer. The extra thumping and bumping is truly nice.

Many sound bars that include a subwoofer often have them physically attached to the soundbar itself via a cord. This isn’t the end of the world unless you struggle to find a place to put the subwoofer near your HDTV and soundbar.
The great thing about the iLive HD Sound Bar is that the included subwoofer connects wirelessly. This means that as long as you place it within 30 feet or so of the iLive soundbar itself, you can connect it wirelessly. But this also means that you do have to find an electrical plug to power it. So weigh your options here and make sure you have a plug where you want to put the subwoofer.
I found that connecting the iLive wireless subwoofer was very easy. You just turn on the soundbar, plug in the subwoofer, and flip the power switch on the back of the subwoofer. The subwoofer will automatically search for the sound bar and connect with it. Once connected, there will be a blue LED that shows it is connected on the soundbar. If you lose your connection, just turn both devices off and then on again, starting with the soundbar.

The quality of bass of the wireless subwoofer is fairly good. It won’t make the plaster fall off of the wall, but it is definitely better than not having a subwoofer at all. And, the nice thing is, you can adjust the amount of bass you want thumping out via the iLive remote control (more on the remote shortly).
Easy-to-use Remote Control
The iLive soundbar comes with a multi-featured remote, which is extremely handy. And, you will need to be sure that you keep that remote handy to use the functionality. While there are buttons on the side of the soundbar itself, you need the remote if you want to fine-tune the audio experience.

The remote control has the standard features you would expect – power, volume, and mute buttons – but it also has other controls based on how you are connected. If, for example, you have a Bluetooth connection, you can play/pause the audio and skip tracks using the remote.
You also have dedicated source input buttons for Bluetooth, Optical, Aux, and Line In, so you can conceivably have four devices simultaneously connected and simply toggle between them with just one button push.
Using the remote, you can fine-tune both the treble and the bass output of the iLive soundbar and subwoofer. Having this ability is nice since everyone’s listening preferences are different.
Lastly, there are dedicated buttons with some pre-set audio settings for the type of audio you are playing: Music, Movie, or Dialog. While these are handy, I actually felt it was better to do the settings myself manually, as I honestly didn’t like the presets.
iLive HD Sound Bar Dimensions, Final Thoughts, and Price
For those curious about the physical specifications, here’s a little bit of content for you. The soundbar measures 37″ long by 2.8″ wide by 2.7″ high. The wireless subwoofer is almost a cube, measuring 8.27″ x 8.27″ x 9″. Bluetooth has a range of about 60 feet before the audio starts cutting out.

Also, the iLive sound bar is wall-mountable. While I prefer simply having the soundbar below the TV, if you don’t have the space for it or aesthetically you like how it appears above the TV, or if you have the TV mounted to the wall already, you do that have the option (and included hardware).
The iLive HD sound bar and wireless subwoofer retails for $149.99. But, you can pick it up currently on Amazon for only $85.72! At this price, it’s a great gift for a grad or perhaps adding to a secondary TV environment like a bedroom.
Shop on HighTechDad
The product shown below (and related products that have been reviewed on HighTechDad) is available within the HighTechDad Shop. This review has all of the details about this particular product and you can order it directly by clicking on the Buy button or clicking on the image/title to view more. Be sure to review other products available in the HighTechDad Shop.

The iLive HD Bluetooth soundbar is a nice, entry-level, multi-function speaker that is great for kids, grads, or simply adding to another room apart from your main HDTV environment. While I do like all of the functionality and features, I do wish the sound was a bit more robust. Nevertheless, having any type of soundbar is definitely a step up from using the stock speakers built-in to a TV.
Disclosure: I have a material connection because I received a sample of a product for consideration in preparing to review the product and write this content. I was/am not expected to return this item after my review period. All opinions within this article are my own and are typically not subject to the editorial review from any 3rd party. Also, some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate” or “advertising” links. These may be automatically created or placed by me manually. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item (sometimes but not necessarily the product or service being reviewed), I will receive a small affiliate or advertising commission. More information can be found on my About page.
HTD says: The iLive HD Sound Bar and Wireless Subwoofer is a great starter soundbar. It connects multiple types of devices through different connections, has quite good sound quality, and makes any type of audio or visual playback better.

HighTechDad Ratings



Price Point


The iLive HD Sound Bar and Wireless Subwoofer is a great starter soundbar. It connects multiple types of devices through different connections, has quite good sound quality, and makes any type of audio or visual playback better. The out-of-the-box setup couldn’t be easier. Simply plug in the iLive soundbar and connect it to your audio source. For HDTVs, use either the optical (ideal) or RCA connections. Connect additional devices via Bluetooth or 3.5mm Aux-in. And, the wireless subwoofer is extremely handy to put in various locations. The sound quality is fairly good for an entry-level soundbar but it does take some adjustments based on the audio connection type or the content you are playing. It’s obviously not as robust as much higher-end (and more expensive) soundbars. But as a gift for a grad or to build out a second viewing room for your HDTV, the iLive 37″ soundbar is definitely a nice addition.


Good price point for an entry-level sound-bar
Ability to connect multiple audio sources
Wireless subwoofer for easier configurations


No HDMI connection (so no ARC control)
Sound quality is good but not fantastic

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Father’s Day 2021 Present Information to do with HighTechDad Reviewed Merchandise

Father’s Day 2021 is literally a week away. But there is still time to get some great gadgets and gifts for the dad or father figure in your life. The list below contains gadgets, consumer electronics, and other gizmos that have been reviewed on HighTechDad over the past year or so. And, within the list of reviewed gadgets, I have hand-selected the ones I think would be great for dads! This is the official HighTechDad Father’s Day 2021 Gift Guide.
This guide is very easy to use. You can click on the picture or the linked title to open the Shop on HighTechDad section of the site. Within the product description, you will see a link to “read the full review on HighTechDad.” Clicking on that will give you a full, in-depth analysis of the product you are looking at.
If you just want to get the product, click on the “Buy” button. This will open the store where you can get that gadget (e.g., Amazon or from the vendor directly). NO eCommerce goes on within
Another way to see all of the recent products that have been reviewed on HighTechDad is to simply head over to the Shop section of the site. There you can select different categories of products and browse through those products.

One last important note. These links are affiliate links. For those products that you do purchase, I do get a tiny commission. Those earnings help me pay for hosting and on-going work on Think of it as buying me a cup of virtual coffee if you’d like. There are no financial transactions that happen on itself, as I mentioned. All “Buy Now” buttons will open a site where you can complete a secure transaction
Hand-selected HighTechDad Products for the Father’s Day 2021 Gift Guide
I really like the tested products shown below. I try to have fairly comprehensive articles that talk about setup and usage, as well as how these items might fit in with the family (hence why I have them in a Father’s Day 2021 Gift Guide). Do click on the pictures to see a quick summary of the gadget and then read the full review linked there.

If you have any questions about these products that I have reviewed, please feel free to leave a comment on this article, or on the review of the product itself. Also, you can ask me directly on Twitter – @HighTechDad. Or, use one of my contact forms.
HTD says: I would like to wish all of the dads and father figures out there a happy, healthy, and safe Father’s Day 2021 and best health and wishes in the years to come! Enjoy this Father’s Day 2021 Gift Guide and remember, being a father or dad is a privilege, treat it with honor and respect!

Essence Overview: Aquibear Reverse Osmosis Counter Water Air purifier

Water keeps us alive. Our earth is 71% water. Our body is about 60% water. So, it’s pretty obvious to me that water is critical to maintaining our health. Health experts recommend that we drink between 10 and 16 cups of water a day to ensure our bodies remain properly hydrated. But something that is overlooked is the purity of the water you drink. Water that is contaminated, dirty, or full of chemicals probably isn’t the best for your health. So, in my pursuit to ensure better health for my family, I was excited when Aquibear reached out to me asking if I wanted to review a prototype of their new Reverse Osmosis (RO) countertop water purifier. (*Disclosure below.)
As a policy, I normally don’t write reviews about pre-production devices or prototypes, nor do I cover crowd-funded gadgets simply because the ones I have invested in simply haven’t been as good as “advertised.” While I was a bit reluctant to review a prototype, after a couple of months of using the Aquibear RO Countertop Water Purifier, my faith has been somewhat restored. The fact is, the Aquibear is now used in my home multiple times a day by the entire family. In fact, it is now part of daily routines and is the go-to water purifier in the kitchen.

There are many great features of the Aquibear which I will go into in this review. At a high level, it is a countertop reverse osmosis water purifier that pumps out purified room temperature water. It has a removable pitcher that can be stored in the refrigerator. And it produces hot water for tea or other hot beverages at the push of a button. Best of all, it’s extremely easy to use, looks nice in the kitchen, and sits on the countertop – no plumbing required.
What is Reverse Osmosis?
Reverse Osmosis (RO) is a technology used to remove most contaminants from water. But how it differs from traditional water filters like the ones found in a Brita pitcher or your filtered refrigerator water is that it pushes the water through a semi-permeable RO membrane with pressure.
Osmosis does occur naturally. Think about plant roots – they can extract water from the soil and clean it up for use in its system. Similarly, our kidneys absorb water from our blood using osmosis. My understanding is that a weaker saline solution will naturally tend to move to a strong saline solution – from less concentration to more. semi-Salty water, if separated by a semi-permeable membrane, would naturally move towards more heavily salted water.
There is no energy required in osmosis – it occurs naturally.

Reverse osmosis, moving from heavy concentration to less concentration, requires energy since it is doing the naturally-occurring process in reverse. The membrane has to allow for water molecules to pass through it but not things like bacteria, organics, or other dissolved materials like salt. When reverse osmosis is happening, it has to have enough energy and pressure to overcome the naturally occurring pressure of osmosis.
There is more scientific mumbo-jumbo behind this, having to do with the molecular weight (MW) of the molecules within the water. For example, the MW of a water molecule is 18. Sodium and Calcium have even lower MW’s. However, any contaminant having an MW larger than 200 should be stopped by a RO system.
As there is some complexity in home Reverse Osmosis systems, a majority of these systems are actually plumbed into your kitchen and can cost several hundreds of dollars. And, the fact that they are typically attached under your kitchen sink means they are not portable.
This is where the Aquibear is a bit more unique. It’s portable but uses much of the same technology.
The Tech in the Aquibear RO Countertop Water Purifier
Before I dive into the tech, I want to quickly talk about filtration and purification. Typical water filters (like the Brita filter or those found in your refrigerator) use an activated carbon filter. These remove elements that cause the bad taste and smell of water—things like chlorine. And they remove other larger contaminants. But that’s pretty much it.
With Reverse Osmosis systems, you have multiple layers of filters and the RO membrane that are active to remove much more from the water. And, there are RO systems that have different stages. Typically, you will see 3-Stage, 4-Stage, and 5-Stage systems for under your sink. But I have seen up to 11-Stage RO systems available. Remember, you probably have to replace a filter for each of those stages (filters = $$$).
A 3-Stage system, like the Aquibear, has…3 stages of cleaning. Typically Stage 1 is a carbon pre-filter. (This is like that Brita or fridge filter.) Stage 2 is the RO membrane. And Stage 3 is a carbon post-filter. A 4-Stage system usually adds a sediment pre-filter ahead of everything else and changes the last carbon post-filter to something called a “polishing filter” (which is, in effect, a carbon filter). A 5-Stage system has a sediment filter > carbon pre-filter > second carbon pre-filter > RO membrane > polishing filter. Other stages may add other types of specific filters into the process.
As I said, the Aquibear is a 3-Stage filter, but there are only two filters you have to replace six months to a year or so later (depending on your usage): the PPC Composite Filter and the RO Composite Filter. The filters for the Aquibear are provided by Hydranautics, one of the global leaders in membrane technology.

The two filters are cleverly hidden away in the main body of the Aquibear, almost like a secret compartment. You need to slide off the top to access them. Once the top is removed, taking the individual filters out is very easy. Note: as of this writing and because the Aquibear is still in the pre-production and funding stage, I don’t have a price for the replacement filters yet.
Using the Aquibear
OK, enough scientific tech talks. You probably want to know how it all works. The beauty of the Aquibear is that it is literally a plug-and-play type of system. The filters come pre-installed (at least my version did). You just have to unpack it and plug it into the power. There is no plumbing you have to do or anything like that.
One thing to remember, this review is based on the prototype/pre-production unit I received. I have provided the manufacturer with some usage feedback during my review period, so the production model may be different.
There is an initial setup process that I’m not going to talk about simply because the manufacturer has told me they are refining that process. But there will always be a process to prime the hoses and pumps and get the filters activated and working. This also will flush out the tubes and hoses.
There are three main sections to the Aquibear: the pre-filtered water storage reservoir, the removable purified water pitcher, and the water spout.

First, you remove the reservoir to fill it up with tap water. When you remove this tank, you will hear two beeps. This lets you know that it has been removed. The reservoir does have a handle to make carrying it a bit easier. And it has a lid to keep dust and debris out. When filling the tank, Aquibear recommends that you dump out the remaining water inside to ensure nothing remains settled at the bottom. When you place it back into the body, you have to be sure that it sits firmly in place. You will know if you have done this when you hear two beeps again.
Aquibear tries to ensure you always have filtered water available. So, from the reservoir tank, the water is automatically filtered and purified, and it is stored in the removable, small water pitcher. The water pitcher can be taken out and put in the refrigerator if you would like. But, in order for you to use the Aquibear in any way, the pitcher must be properly inserted into the base. When you remove it, the base will beep three times, and when you properly insert it, it will beep 3 times again.

Honestly, we rarely remove the pitcher; we use the water outlet spout instead. The spout itself can pivot 90º for better positioning. One nice feature about the spout is that it will light up either in blue when the cool water is being poured (it’s room temperature water) or in red if you choose to have hot water.

The hot water is practically boiling and can burn your hand. It’s perfect for tea (or, as my kids discovered, making hot chocolate). Note: because the water flow when hot water is activated is a bit slow, it does tend to splatter a bit more than when distributing cool water, so you should keep your mug closer to the spout when doing hot water. I have mentioned this to Aquibear, and this could be easily resolved with a water shield around the spout.

The front of the Aquibear is where you have all of the soft-touch controls for the water as well as the various alert lights. A quick note: in bright light, it is sometimes difficult to see the buttons and alert lights – I passed this information on to Aquibear. Just touch any of the buttons to wake it up from sleep mode and illuminate all of the buttons and indicators.

At the top, you have the outlet water volume. You can select 8 oz, 12 oz, or Max for the output. The 8 oz. is perfect for a cup or mug, the 12 oz. is great for a glass, and the Max just keeps pouring until you are out of water. Any of the settings can be started or stopped by pressing the hot or cold water button. You choose the outlet amount with the plus or minus arrow buttons.
The next most important buttons are the type of water you want: cool or hot. The cool water (room temp) is the cup icon without the steam, and the hot one is the one with the steam (obviously). After selecting the output amount, press either of these buttons for cool or hot water.
Below the cool/hot buttons is the flush button. This is only used when flushing the system for setup or cleaning. And at the top of the soft-touch button column is the lock. The lock serves a variety of purposes. You can activate a child lock to prevent kids from burning themselves with the hot water. Or the lock may automatically activate when hot water is not available. Pressing and holding the lock button for about 3 seconds will activate/deactivate the child lock feature.
On the far right-hand side are the various alerts and indicators. You can see the status of the two filters (PPC and RO) so that you know when you need to change a filter. After a couple of months of daily use, both of my filters are showing four white dots! If the red light on either of those filter indicators turns on, it’s time to replace the filter.

The final three indicators are important for daily use. The top one is related to changing the water. If it is flashing white, you need to fill the tap water tank. If it is flashing red, that means the Aquibear has detected a high TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) count. The water could be heavily polluted, so you need to replace the water in the tank. If it is solid red, you need to do the same thing as there is a high TDS count.
The indicator below that shows that the water is purifying (moving from the tap tank to the pitcher). And the bottom indicator…well, I’m not entirely sure what that is for.
Quick water quality tests
We always use filtered water in our house, even though the quality of our tap water directly from the faucet is extremely high. Some quick taste comparisons between the tap, the Brita-filtered water, the refrigerator-filtered water, and the Aquibear were so close, it was tough to tell the difference to my untrained taste buds. And there is no chlorine smell with any of those. And, for good measure, I tried a bottle of distilled water.
So, I decided to pick up a TDS meter/water quality tester to actually try to do something somewhat scientific. I tested the five water sources I named above: tap, Brita, fridge, distilled water from a bottle, and Aquibear. Here are the results:
Tap water (cold) – 37Tap water (hot) – 52Brita filter water – 24Fridge water – 27Bottled distilled water – 31Aquibear water (cold) – 10Aquibear water (hot) – 22

I will let the numbers speak for themselves (with a tiny bit of context). From what I understand, there is a TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) number range: 0-50 = ideal drinking water (reverse osmosis), 50-100 = carbon filtration, mountain springs, 100-200 = hard water, 200-300 = marginally acceptable, 300-500 = high levels of TDS, 500+ = maximum contamination (don’t drink). Average tap water is typically between 100 and 400. But this is just one source I found. Others say the ideal range is between 300-500. Bottom line, if you are over 500, you need a Reverse Osmosis system.
Final thoughts on the Aquibear – Cost & Availability
As I mentioned, as of this writing, the Aquibear is currently not in the production phase. However, some early-production units, like mine, have been distributed. And, there is currently an Indiegogo campaign launching shortly. That being said, you may want to track the campaign to get a better estimate of the price.
I am guessing that the Aquibear will be priced around $200-300, which would be in line with other under-the-sink RO units. And I’m guessing that the replacement filters will be less than $100. Remember, you probably only have to replace the filters about once a year, but it really depends on a few factors like the quality of your water and the amount you use it.

I have to say, though, this is a great device to have in your home or even your office. While the tank isn’t huge, which means that you do have to refill it quite regularly, especially if you are a heavy water drinker, the Aquibear’s size makes it quite portable, and it can be placed in any room. I was thinking that it would be an ideal gadget for a child going off to college (my daughter would LOVE to have one). Not only can they get pure water in their room, but if they need boiling-hot water, they would have that at the touch of a button.
The Aquibear is now used in our home each and every day and multiple times a day for both cold and hot water. It is super convenient, and you don’t have to worry about your water not being pure.
Disclosure: I have a material connection because I received a sample of a product for consideration in preparing to review the product and write this content. I was/am not expected to return this item after my review period. All opinions within this article are my own and are typically not subject to the editorial review from any 3rd party. Also, some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate” or “advertising” links. These may be automatically created or placed by me manually. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item (sometimes but not necessarily the product or service being reviewed), I will receive a small affiliate or advertising commission. More information can be found on my About page.
HTD says: The Aquibear RO Countertop Water Purifier is one of those gadgets you didn’t realize you should have until you have one. Drinking lots of water during the day is critical to your health. But drinking well-purified and filtered water is even more important, and the Aquibear conveniently purifies tap water from a device that sits on your countertop.

HighTechDad Rating




The Aquibear RO Countertop Water Purifier is one of those gadgets you didn’t realize you should have until you have one. Drinking lots of water during the day is critical to your health. But drinking well-purified and filtered water is even more important, and the Aquibear conveniently purifies tap water from a device that sits on your countertop. The setup takes a little bit of time as you need to fully flush the pipes, hoses, and filters before first use. But once you go through the process, getting purified cool or hot water is just a press of a button. There are good child-lock controls to prevent smaller kids from getting burned by the hot water (it IS hot). Having RO purified water at the click of a button is extremely convenient. And, the fact that you can place this device just about anywhere makes it ideal for homes (or dorm rooms, for example). Note: I removed the Pricing rating from this review as this is a review of a pre-production unit, and pricing has not been announced yet. Also, the ratings are based on 2 months of usage of this pre-production unit, so the actual production unit may be a bit different.


Easy to set up
Conveniently place unit anywhere
Easy to use – hot or cool water at the push of a button


Hot water does splatter a bit more than cool water
You must have the tank and pitcher firmly in place for the unit to be active (not really a “con” just more of an FYI)
Difficult to see the buttons/indicators in bright light

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Functions OneDrive and Time Machine? The very best methodology to Repair One Annoying Error with time Machine Simply!

I love the simplicity of using Apple’s Time Machine for doing backups. You plug in an external hard drive, and magically it will create backups and snapshots in the background. That is until you get a cryptic error like “An error has occurred while copying files.” Huh?! Ok, tell me more, Time Machine! But, part of “keeping things simple” means hiding away the details of what is causing a Time Machine error. After some digging around, I found the easy fix to this Time Machine error, and it hasn’t occurred since I corrected the problem. It turns out, in my case, Microsoft OneDrive and Apple Time Machine were not playing nicely together.
I’m actually not a stranger to Time Machine errors. Back in 2019, I was getting Error Type 11 issues with my backup. There are some good troubleshooting tips in that Fix-It article, so if what you find in this article doesn’t help, I encourage you to look at that one as it has more general approaches to fixing Time Machine errors. This How-To article is a bit more specific. But it took a while to figure out what was exactly causing it.
This Fix-It article tells you how to find the logs that may be showing the specific error and then use that information to correct it. There may be some other Time Machine errors that you encounter in the process that you can identify and fix as well. (Hint: if you don’t care about how I figured this out and just want the fix, skip to the end of the article.)
The Time Machine Error & Getting Details On It
Here’s what happened. For quite a while, Time Machine was just chugging along, doing its thing. Then, I started getting alerts saying that the Time Machine backup had failed. When I went to the Time Machine preference pane within the System Preferences, there was the usual red circle information icon.

Clicking on the red information icon launched an “amazingly informative” description of the error. It said: “Time Machine couldn’t complete the back to ‘Time Machine Backup’” (obviously, if you encounter this error, instead of “Time Machine Backup,” it would be the name you gave your backup drive).
But then came the super-informative Time Machine error message: “An error occurred while copying files.” That’s it.
As some quick troubleshooting, I did some of the tips I mentioned in my other repair article, including the Disk Utility to analyze and repair the backup drive. And actually also completely reformatting the backup drive and starting the Time Machine process from scratch. I did this a few times.
But the error would keep coming back. Not after the first few backups, but a while later. It was extremely odd. And, I couldn’t get any information on it because, as I said, Apple likes to hide the error details away.
I realized I needed to look at the log files to see exactly what Time Machine was complaining about. But Time Machine doesn’t have easy to access log. I checked in the Console utility app, but there was too much information to go through; it wasn’t an efficient way to do this.
This is where a Terminal command actually helped me tremendously. Because macOS is essentially Apple’s version of Linux (sort of), using the Terminal app can be extremely powerful, useful, and helpful. Linux commands can be executed from within the Terminal app, giving you superpowers you didn’t know you had.
First, let me say I am NOT a Linux expert. Nor do I pretend to know much if anything about working with the command line. What I do know is that there are lots of really smart people who do Linux commands all of the time – these people are geek gods in my mind!
I have, however, run enough Linux commands to have a decent understanding of them. And to truly appreciate their power.
I digress. Let me share the Linux command that helped me figure out this particular issue with Time Machine (and how I came to learn that Microsoft OneDrive was the culprit).
Using Terminal to get Time Machine Errors
I needed the details. What was causing this error? After searching around for an easy way to get detailed Time Machine logs, I stumbled across the Terminal command that would allow me to do this. Here it is:
printf ‘e[3J’ && log show –predicate ‘subsystem == “”‘ –info –last 6h | grep -F ‘eMac’ | grep -Fv ‘etat’ | awk -F’]’ ‘{print substr($0,1,19), $NF}’
I can’t tell you exactly what all of this translates to. It says to look into the “” log and look at the past 6 hours (note, you can change that number). It will also look for the phrases “eMac” and “etat” and then print it all to the screen. You just run that command using the Terminal app which is found in the Utilities folder.
It turns out this was exactly what I needed. I did decide to reformat my backup drive one more time and then let the backup run overnight without me using my Mac – I wanted to run the command right after the error appeared. So I did just that, and voila, the error popped up again.
I ran the command.

I was a bit shocked by the result. The log file was huge. I saved the results as a text file, and that file was 72 MBs in size!!! Ummm…that’s a lot of errors. (By the way, after doing the fix that I note later in this article, I reran the same command. The resulting file size was only 41 KB! So something did, obviously, work.)
So, I started digging through the errors and started to notice a common thing. Almost 100% of the “Failed to copy” errors were for files that resided on my local machine’s OneDrive!
The Culprit: Microsoft OneDrive
When I started to think about it, that made absolute sense. Microsoft OneDrive is a complicated beast. And, there is a feature that I love and use within OneDrive that I am guessing may have been confusing Apple’s Time Machine. Within OneDrive, you can make some files on-demand to save space on your laptop. The file name exists, but the file is essentially just a pointer to something stored in the cloud. I wrote about on-demand and select-sync, two extremely useful OneDrive features.
If, for example, you have an image that is marked as on-demand and you want to preview it by tapping on the space bar, you won’t get a preview. You will need to store the file locally to be able to do that.
I hypothesize that Time Machine was getting confused with these virtual or pointer files. It was trying to back up these files but not being able to because they weren’t really there to back up. So that is why it said an error had occurred.

You could, I guess, allow Time Machine to have the permission to download the files in the OneDrive drive automatically. Still, I think that would completely defeat the purpose of using the on-demand aspect of OneDrive because Time Machine would automatically keep copies locally.
The whole point of the on-demand feature of OneDrive is to keep things in the cloud and save space on your hard drive.
Then I started to think…if everything within my OneDrive directory is already synced within the cloud, why the heck do I need to take a Time Machine backup of that entire directory?
At that point, I had two reasons why I really didn’t need OneDrive to be backed up by Time Machine:
it was causing errors because of the on-demand feature, I believe, and it was already backed up to the cloud.
The Fix: Exclude OneDrive from the Time Machine Backup
Long story short (TL;DR version), the way that I fixed this was to simply exclude my Microsoft OneDrive directory from the Apple Time Machine Backup. Honestly, you don’t need to do it since that directory is already in the cloud and backed up there.
To exclude a directory from Time Machine, simply open the Time Machine System Preferences pane. Then click on the Options… button.

Next, click on the + button to add a directory (or file) to the exclude list. Another window will open when you do that, allowing you to navigate to the directory you want to exclude. In this case, I selected my personal OneDrive account (I do have a Business one as well).

And once you click on the Exclude button, OneDrive will show up within the “Exclude these items from backups” list. Just click Save and you are done.

Now, all that you have to do is let Time Machine work its magic! So I let it run a few days before I declared victory. And to be sure, I ran the Terminal command I listed earlier multiple times a few hours and days apart. And as I mentioned before, the Time Machine error disappeared (the log file went from 72 MB to 41 KB, and there was no sign of any file copying errors within the error log).
Also, interestingly, because I had put my personal OneDrive directory into the exclusion list, when I tried to put my Business OneDrive directory into the same list, it was greyed out and couldn’t be selected.
But that was the easy fix! I just had to figure out what was causing the generic Time Machine error; that was the hard part. (Removing the OneDrive directory actually has sped up my backup as there are fewer files to process.)
Do leave a comment if this fix helped you or if you encountered another type of error that couldn’t be resolved like this.
HTD says: The lesson I learned from troubleshooting a Time Machine backup error of not being able to copy a file was that perhaps some things don’t even need to be backed up in the first place! Especially if it is OneDrive which is already backing things up in the cloud.
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Evolving Provide Chain Fashions and the Outlook for Traders

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic came along, the supply chain was beginning to seriously pique the interest of institutional and retail investors, emerging from its undervalued status as a target for cost-cutting, and rising to recognition as a driver of customer service and competitive advantage.More than merely accelerating this effect, the pandemic has acted as a catalyst for supply chain focus, highlighting its criticality for successful commerce and the dire consequences of breakdown.It’s likely that from now on, supply chain performance and structure will receive a lot more attention from investors than before the Coronavirus crisis—but what should they look for when deciding which companies offer the most promising possibilities of healthy yields?That’s what we’ll explore in the following paragraphs, both as a general indication of the supply chain’s impact on future business performance, and a guide for potential investors.Which Supply Chain Approaches Will Drive ROI for Investors?For investors wishing to evaluate the supply chain as an indicator for company investment, it is first necessary to understand how supply chains must change to gain competitive advantage and, indeed, for companies to survive at all.So let’s take a look at some supply chain aspects that are fundamentally transforming, and consider the differences most likely to ensure positive returns for investors.1: From Support Role to Centre StageAt the point of sale, customers today enjoy an unprecedented degree of choice in the range, price, and quality of products on offer, primarily due to the development of mobile technology, connectivity, and platform-based commerce. These developments have also generated demand for a similarly diverse range of fulfilment options.Companies marketing most effectively are the ones that no longer focus solely on the benefits that a product offers to their customers, but also those provided by their fulfilment processes.In the same vein, enterprises that incorporate the supply chain into their plans for customer-experience enhancement, are gaining engagement and loyalty, and setting new levels of expectation, which others will need to emulate if they wish to compete.In short, the traditional view of the supply chain as a costly, but necessary, support function, existing purely to enable the balance of supply with demand, is losing its appeal. It will almost certainly continue to do so as the new view, in which the supply chain features strongly in marketing and customer service efforts, returns increasingly positive outcomes for merchants.2: From Asset Ownership to Platform ExploitationThe traditional approach to supply chain operation is one based on massive capital expenditure. Inventory, storage facilities, transportation assets, energy provision—all of these things have conventionally been sourced through capital spending, leaving many companies with phenomenal sums of money sunk into capital investments.Again, digital technology has arisen as the key to transformation, in the guise of services managed via online platforms. Unlike the asset-heavy supply chain, companies that exploit this ability to source just about everything “as a service” will find it easier to adapt to continually changing supply chain challenges and demands.The Many Purposes of Supply Chain PlatformsHow is digital platform use likely to be a future hallmark of supply chain success? To answer that question, let’s look quickly at how platform-delivered services and sales mechanisms can be exploited: Companies can shorten their supply chains by transitioning some, or all, of their sales to direct-to-customer (D2C) channels, thereby reducing their reliance on wholesalers, distributors, and other partners. Integrated networks of “as-a-service” platforms, including analytics engines that predict demand dynamically, can enable businesses to scale autonomously to meet peaks and troughs. That’s a big step forward from the historical approach of reactive inventory management and capital sunk into fixed assets for storage, fulfillment, and transportation. “As-a-service” logistics providers are able to support companies with rapid, scalable, support solutions, including on-demand fulfilment and last-mile delivery, via platforms that offer total visibility into the providers’ performance and the client/provider relationship. Companies with large, existing networks of capital assets can even exploit those by making them available to other entities via as-a-service platforms.The final point above highlights attractive possibilities for companies that remain locked into capital-heavy supply chains, since as-a-service platforms can help them use their assets more efficiently.However, the wealthiest prizes are likely to be enjoyed by businesses that opt for flexible, scalable, exploitation of platform networks, incorporating everything from D2C sales, through planning and analytics, freight shipping, and order fulfilment, to last-mile delivery.3: From People-Power to Technological TalentThe supply chain arena has always been about people and their relationships, along with asset utilisation, meaning that talent acquisition is typically focused on skilled operators and people managers.These qualities will continue to hold exceptional value in future supply chain operations. In addition, however, successful companies will be concentrating more on acquiring hybrid talent, that is, professionals with an in-depth understanding of technology and its integration with the physical elements of logistics operations and supply chain.Does this mean that investors should merely favour companies that value technological prowess in their talent acquisition policies?Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Since digital transformation is a principal feature in all business functions today, competition for hybrid talent is stiff.Therefore, it would be more prudent to explore how effectively (or not) a company is implementing recruitment strategies that encourage candidates with the right mix of ops and tech expertise.For example, signs that a company is moving in the right direction, talent-wise, might include: The deployment of staff in new roles, absent the traditional supply-chain-centric titles and instead, hybridizing across data-science and logistics skill sets. An evident willingness to embrace remote and flexible working, perhaps utilizing a workforce combining regular employees, outsourced contractors, and home-based freelancers. The precise makeup of the workforce should not be of concern, but companies sticking exclusively with conventional employment contracts may not find it easy to build the right mix of talent. The establishment of in-house technology-based training programs or partnerships with relevant education providers.4: From Massive Production to Micro Supply ChainCost to serve has always been a telling, but tough-to-define, measurement of supply chain performance. Those companies that understand their cost-to-serve hold an advantage over their competitors. That’s because they’re able to see which customers, SKUs, and processes are most and least profitable—and respond accordingly.Soon, though, understanding cost-to-serve will become more straightforward, even as product lines and customer categories continue to diversify. Moreover, as a result of intelligent automation and similar digital technology advances, the supply chain of the near future will be one in which cost-to-serve can be analysed by a company continuously in real-time.That capability will be critical and will separate the most successful supply chain operators from the rest.The reason? Because of the evolving need to provide customers with ever-greater choices and meet their requirements for customisation and personalisation.Dynamic Supply Chain AdjustmentCompanies dependent on capital-intensive mass production and long-term supply partnerships are rarely nimble. As highlighted by the pandemic, they can struggle to adjust to new challenges and volatile demand fluctuations.Similarly, they often operate what is essentially a one-size-fits-all supply chain model that fails to take into account, or even provide visibility of, the costs involved in delivering a variety of products and product variants.Therefore, the best investment prospects will probably be those enterprises capitalising on powerful analytics platforms to interrogate cost-to-serve data for individual customers on the fly.They will link these capabilities to multiple, micro supply chains, exploiting a combination of mass production and postponement to complete the manufacture of a product as close to their customers as possible. Dynamic cost-to-serve data visualisation will allow them to monitor the actual profitability of channels, products, customers, and supply chains, and continually tweak and adjust for optimal margins.Bringing Production Closer to the CustomerMany of these micro supply chains will (in the western world) exist from end-to-end within a single national border, or perhaps within a region, rather than originating, for example, in China. Furthermore, they will use flexible contract manufacturing based on high levels of robotics and automation to operate on a largely variable cost base.As a result, these businesses’ supply chains will be faster, more flexible, less expensive, more sustainable, and less vulnerable to geopolitical issues and black swan events—and hence positive news for the supply-chain-savvy investor.Investing in Supply Chain? Think Nimble as the New NormalThe common thread running through all the observations and ideas in this article is of supply chains that can be both agile and robust, and above all, nimble and elastic enough to respond quickly to changes and challenges in geopolitical, social, technological, environmental, and commercial environments that are typical of the 2020s.Perhaps “typical” is the wrong expression, since, as the first couple of decades of this century have shown us, our world is subject to events and conditions that defy typicality. Still, that’s all the more reason for companies to think differently about supply chain operations.If you’re looking at supply chains from the perspective of an institutional or retail investor, the safer money would appear to be that which backs those nimble, agile, and asset-light supply networks. Meanwhile, the glory days could be over for companies relying on the capital-intensive, heavily integrated chains suited to a less tumultuous, bygone age.Best Regards,Rob O’ByrneEmail: [email protected]Phone: +61 417 417 307

Staying Impartial within the Age of Enterprise Partnership Tradition

A recent catch-up session with one of our software suppliers left me reflecting on how business relationships are changing, primarily in their focus and perceived value.Partly to process those reflections internally, and equally for you to consider before engaging a supply chain or business consulting firm, I thought I’d share my perception of an emerging development in partnership culture, seemingly fuelled by the popularity of cloud delivery for enterprise software.While undoubtedly beneficial and appropriate in many current business scenarios, partnership culture is challenging consulting companies like ours that believe we serve our clients best by acting independently and agnostically to drive desirable outcomes.Partnerships: Essential in Supply Chain, Less So in ConsultingAt Logistics Bureau, we’re in the supply chain game, and if you’re in it too, you know that it’s one in which a reliance on partners is nothing new. Indeed, few supply chains can operate at all without partnerships between a company, its suppliers, its customers, and logistics service providers.This need for a symbiotic existence doesn’t require much explanation, as it’s the very nature of the process needed to take raw materials, manufacture them into products that people need, and then sell and deliver them to those people. That’s the way it has worked for centuries.However, the same cannot be said for the professional services sphere and those enterprises operating within it.As one of those enterprises, Logistics Bureau has always prided itself on its independence and an agnostic approach to finding solutions for its customers. It’s one of our core values, and it has served our clients and our business admirably for more than two decades.Nevertheless, a recent meeting with a software vendor brought home to me how profoundly digital technology, primarily when provided via cloud-hosted SaaS delivery models, influences the focus of business relationships. It’s a factor that may, in time, make it less easy for professional service providers to remain independent.The Problem with Vendor/Consultant PartnershipsFor me, it’s not hard to see the conflict that partnerships with vendors would ignite in our business.We could no longer serve our clients with objectivity if we were committed to supporting a specific brand, manufacturer, or vendor. Without such a commitment, though, there can be no partnership—hence we choose to remain independent.Additionally, partnerships throw up other issues which would impact our services. Confidentiality, for instance, often features as a critical condition under which a client engages us. Collaborating with vendors or service providers would inevitably jeopardise our ability to guarantee 100% confidentiality.Even if we were able to promise confidentiality, it would harm a client’s trust in us if we were known to collaborate with other agencies as part of our service provision, and something should leak during our engagement. As sure as we might be that the leak did not originate from us or our “partner”, the onus would be on us to prove that—or pay the opportunity cost of a client that’s no longer sure of our integrity.The Pressure to PartnerSo what’s the rub? Well, here it is…As much as the supply chain and logistics industry depends on good business relationships, innovative thinking, robust processes, and effective management, digital technology is pervasive.Let’s face it, IT has revolutionised the way supply chains operate, and it would be unreasonable to think that it will not continue to do so. Short of an almost literal return to the dark ages, we need digital innovation. The more technological sophistication we can apply to supply chain management and logistics execution, the greater the results will be for all concerned.But behind every technological solution, as mentioned, is a proprietor. In the case of cloud solutions, this is critical because software customers no longer buy the product. Instead, they pay to use it.It’s a model with many mutual benefits for software customers and vendors. Nonetheless, it pays the vendor handsomely to a) ensure the customer will use the product for the longest possible time and b) encourage adoption by the most significant number of users possible.But We Want to Use Software, Not Sell It!As consultants, we rely on the speed and efficiency of modeling software to help us give clients the answers they need. However, this is where the trend towards business partnership may soon begin to make objective consulting a more challenging service to provide.Unlike general business software, such as MS Office, or even sophisticated enterprise solutions like SAP, best-of-breed supply chain applications may not be readily available to smaller consulting firms for much longer. At the very least, acquiring them could become a lot more challenging for those wishing to retain independence and impartiality.Portentously, one of our technology suppliers recently informed us that if we wish to continue using their product as a tool for our consulting projects, we will need to partner with them and market their product to our clients.Furthermore, we would need to inform the vendor about every project on which we use the software, providing information about the client and the purpose for which the technology would be used.Although selling products goes against all our core values, and we don’t wish to operate in the realm of software reselling, these were the only conditions under which we would be allowed to retain access to the tool in question.An Incredulous Proposal?While it was clear that the proposal seemed perfectly reasonable to the vendor, my vexation with it is best explained using an analogy.For example, would it be reasonable for a truck manufacturer to impose similar obligations on 3PL logistics providers or carriers?Imagine the incredulity if you are a 3PL manager and the truck manufacturer says the following to you:“You can buy our trucks, but only if you tell us about every client whose goods you carry on them, what goods you carry for them, for what purpose—and while we’re at it, we want you to help us sell your clients a truck or two. If you don’t agree to comply with these conditions, you won’t be buying any trucks from us.”That’s pretty much the essence of the ultimatum we received from our former software vendor. As a result, we no longer work with their product and have sourced an alternative while considering our longer-term technology strategy.Planning for ChangeIt will be interesting to see if, as time goes on, other vendors in the same software niche place similar contractual demands on their customers in the consulting profession.If such expectations become the norm, companies like ours will find it increasingly difficult to operate without divesting ourselves of the objectivity and impartiality our clients expect. That is a path that Logistics Bureau will never take!As much as anything, this scenario highlights how changes in business relationships and the rapid evolution of problem-solving technology could bring about transformation in the consulting industry.We’re basing our longer-term plans on the possibility that if we want to continue using specialist modelling software to improve project outcomes for our clientele, we need to get into bed with specific vendors or start developing software products for ourselves.The first option goes against our principles, and is therefore out of the question. Consequently, we are pursuing the second option, although it is costly and involves diversification into tech development alongside our roles as experts in business practice and process.How Do You Feel About Consultant/Vendor Partnerships?It has been somewhat cathartic to reflect on our software-vendor mini-crisis, but aside from that, I guess it could be helpful as food for thought if your business seeks help from a consulting company at some future point.For instance, I’d love to know your thoughts on the following questions: ·         Would you be comfortable engaging a professional services company, knowing it was locked into collaborative partnerships with software, systems, or equipment vendors and obliged to market their products? ·         How critical do you see the need for independence and vendor-impartiality in the services offered by a consulting firm?It’s always good to receive the perspectives of the types of companies we serve, so I welcome your views in the comments section below.However, at Logistics Bureau, our position is clear—we will do what is necessary to stay independent, be true to our core values and avoid exposure to the potential issues arising from vendor partnerships. We’ll continue to embrace the best digital tools available to help our clients understand, manage, and improve their supply chains—but we won’t be selling software any time soon.Best Regards,Rob O’ByrneEmail: [email protected]Phone: +61 417 417 307

The Pullback From China: Will it Be Tougher for SMEs?

Whether to relocate supply or manufacturing from China to another low-cost country or switch to a near-shoring or re-shoring strategy is not a decision to take lightly. That makes the slow but steady increase in the number of large companies doing just that all the more notable.A combination of geopolitical instability and lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic has many companies, large and small, second-guessing their commitment to China as a center for offshore manufacture.If the exodus continues, will smaller businesses find the cost of near-shoring or re-shoring becoming impossibly prohibitive? Let’s see what the evidence suggests.Which Large Enterprises are Pulling Back From China?We’ll begin with a look at which of the larger, most well-known companies have already shifted some of their supply chain activity away from China, are in the process currently, or have announced plans to do so. Some of the most notable include: Steve Madden, shoe and bag retailer: Moving production to Cambodia, Brazil, Mexico, and Vietnam. The transition was scheduled to begin this year. Nike: The world-famous sportswear brand has been moving manufacturing from China to some African and Southeast Asian countries. Under Armour: Another apparel brand forsaking China, Under Armour plans to reduce production in the country from 18% to a mere 7%. Target countries for new production facilities include Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Jordan. Apple: The mighty tech brand has begun encouraging many of its suppliers to move their manufacturing facilities from China. Contract manufacturers for Apple, including Foxconn, are relocating some production to India, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand. That said, it’s expected that the majority of manufacturing capacity will remain in China. Nintendo: One of the world’s most well-known console brands has moved some of its production from China to Vietnam, primarily as a diversification move. Samsung: The electronics giant has moved all smartphone, TV, and PC production out of China. Sony: Japan’s best-known tech company relocated its smartphone manufacturing from China to Thailand, citing rising costs in China as a primary reason for the decision. LG Electronics: Hit by tariffs on its refrigerators for the United States market, this South Korean enterprise re-shored manufacturing of those appliances. Intel: A household name in microchip technology, Intel has moved some of its manufacturing from China to Vietnam, and plans to commission some new production facilities in the United States. Adidas: Vietnam is one of the countries benefitting most from Adidas’ drawn-out retreat from Chinese manufacturing, which has been underway since 2010. In that time, the company has reduced manufacturing in China by around 50%. GoPro: This camera company from the United States began moving manufacturing from China to Mexico back in 2018. Puma: Like its rival, Adidas, Puma is reducing reliance on China for manufacturing. US import tariffs and the desire to diversify manufacturing locations are the key drivers of the move, which will see some of the company’s production transferred to Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Cambodia. Microsoft: Although it’s not talking much about it, Microsoft was said last year to be moving some of its PC and laptop manufacturing capacity from China to North Vietnam. Hasbro: The famous American toymaker has moved a substantial portion of its manufacturing activity from China, relocating it to India and Vietnam. Alphabet: The parent company of Google has moved the manufacture of its Pixel smartphone to Vietnam. Other products, such as motherboards and smart-home components, will no longer be produced in China either, as Alphabet plans to move their manufacture to Taiwan, Thailand, and Malaysia.The above list of large corporations moving production away from China is by no means exhaustive, and remarkably, almost all of them were in the process of doing so before the pandemic struck.In the wake of COVID-19, as enterprises with global supply chains count the cost of the crisis and consider ways to increase resilience, many more large companies are expected to move at least some of their manufacturing to other low-cost countries, or locations nearer to home.Key reasons for the steady exodus include lessons learned from the pandemic’s global supply chain disruption, tariffs imposed due to the US/China trade war, rising costs in China, and the worsening geopolitical situation.The Governmental InfluenceFar from staying impartial to China’s fall from manufacturing favour, some national governments are actively encouraging their countries’ large companies to bring production home or at least, to move it away from China.For example, the United States Government’s imposition of tariffs speaks for itself, even if former President Trump hadn’t repeatedly told companies to bring manufacturing home.Meanwhile, in JapanThe Japanese government allocated more than $2 billion (USD) of its economic stimulus package to aiding its manufacturers to move back onto home soil. Although there is little evidence that the incentive has stimulated re-shoring to any great extent, some 900 Japanese companies have chosen to begin procuring supplies from countries other than China.Germany’s Pullback From ChinaGerman companies, it seems, don’t need too much governmental incentive to persuade them to pull back from China.In 2019, close to 25% of all German companies, including Adidas and Puma, had announced plans to remove operations from the People’s Republic.Nevertheless, it’s no secret that the German government is keen to see its nation’s businesses become less dependent on China as a supplier, so some of those enterprises considering a move may well be doing so in the expectation of future state-sponsored initiatives.Opinions differ as to whether the trickle of companies reducing or eliminating their presence in China will become a flood. However, given recent events in the political arena, it’s conceivable that even those companies in China as much for access to its vast domestic market as its manufacturing prowess might think long and hard about the choice to remain or pull out.SMEs With China Manufacturing: Is There a Danger in Staying Too Long?With all the moving and shaking going on among the larger corporates with manufacturing facilities in China, it’s clear that other nations will continue to see an influx of manufacturing activity.Whether these giant enterprises choose to pull out totally or partially, re-shore, relocate to alternative near-shore or offshore locations or exclude China from future manufacturing plans, there will be some effects on the new destinations chosen.A Tough, But Necessary, Decision for SMEsSo, where does that leave smaller enterprises with a will to pull back from China? After all, a significant number of SMEs have contracted their production out to Chinese manufacturers. They’re also subject to the same problems and issues faced by their corporate brethren.Tariffs, geopolitical troubles, pandemics, rising labour costs; none of these ills spare a business based on its size. However, if anything, smaller businesses will be the ones to feel the effects more acutely—and will have fewer options to reduce or avoid them.Recognition of that fact seems abundant. According to one survey, more than half the small businesses in North America with suppliers in China are looking to end their relationships, with Mexico being a popular—and closer—alternative under consideration.For many SMEs, now might be the time to decide whether to make the move imminently or wait a while and see how things develop.Is There a Cost for Those That Wait?On the one hand, SMEs have several advantages over larger enterprises when it comes to moving out. They are more nimble than large conglomerates, probably haven’t invested large amounts of capital into Chinese manufacturing, and are less likely to experience punitive retaliation from Beijing—all of which make relocation more practical, not to mention faster.On the other, it’s unwise to underestimate the costs of switching procurement from one country to another. Smaller companies may find relocation unaffordable, especially while battling with pandemic fallout.For those SMEs that wait, though, sourcing costs might become an even more significant factor in the pullback from China. American SMEs, for example, might find the cost of sourcing from Mexico to be less attractive in a couple of years than it is right now.The same might be said for Japanese and Australian firms that choose to wait before relocating procurement, production, and manufacturing to countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand.After all, with larger companies pouring investment into these countries and creating demand for industrial real estate, labour, raw materials, components, and other resources, price increases are likely to be inevitable over time.Not an Easy Call to MakeIn reality, there are so many factors in play that it’s not realistic to predict how the exodus of larger companies from China will impact the cost of sourcing elsewhere for smaller businesses.For example, while an increase in demand for labour could push wage costs up, the pace at which automation and commercial robotics is developing could help to curb such a demand. Moreover, for SMEs that choose to near-shore, some additional sourcing costs could be offset by transport-cost reductions.Similarly, there is always the possibility that labour rates in China could fall again as demand reduces or that the rate of increase slows compared to other outsourced manufacturing destinations. In that case, companies deciding to wait might find that the incentive to keep their manufacturing in the People’s Republic actually grows in the interim.What Are Your Business’ Plans for Future Sourcing?As the dynamics of international sourcing continue to play out, it seems that the only sure thing is the continuation of uncertainty.Should SMEs turn their backs on China as a supply source, or merely reduce reliance on the country and diversify their supply chains? Is it better to move now before costs start to increase too much, or to stick with China and see what happens?What’s to say the next black swan event won’t disrupt sources in a different country or region, and who knows when that event may occur? Perhaps a re-shoring policy, or strategy in which future sourcing will all be domestic, is the only safe route to take?What do you see as the future of sourcing for small to medium-sized businesses? Do you believe the cost to relocate to suppliers or manufacturers in other countries will increase? Is it viable to pull away from China?I’m always interested to know the views of supply chain professionals when it comes to the dynamics of globalization, so please do share your thoughts in the comments section below.Best Regards,Rob O’ByrneEmail: [email protected]Phone: +61 417 417 307

Know Your Provide Chain KPIs – Procurement

Whether you’re planning to benchmark your supply chain or simply trying to improve how you measure its performance, it makes sense to know a little about the most commonly used KPIs for each supply chain component.While some supply chain KPIs will provide a broad and high-level picture for end-to-end performance monitoring, others enable more granular insights into specific functions.On this blog and the one published by our sister company Logistics Bureau, we often receive questions relating to metrics suitable for monitoring procurement performance.To answer some of those inquiries, we decided to release the following brief overview of what we believe to be the most helpful procurement KPIs.7 Procurement KPIs You Should be UsingYou don’t necessarily need to use all the following metrics in your procurement department. Nevertheless, each of them has a valuable part to play in customer-focused performance measurement and is therefore worth including in your KPI portfolio. So take a look and think about which ones would be most relevant for your business.1. Competitiveness of PricingThe price you pay your vendors for their products is a significant factor in your company’s ability to compete in its market.Here, we’re talking about all your vendors. It’s understood that you might have some strategic suppliers with which you are effectively partners, and in those cases, price is but a small element of the total value they provide.However, your company probably procures a wide range of indirect supplies, and this is where pricing can impact your competitive advantage.While there is no specific formula for a pricing-competitiveness KPI, it should merely be a case of checking the prices you are paying for supplies in given categories against those published in market price guides and online.2. Supplier Defect RateThere are several methods you can use to measure the supplier defect rate. For example, you might use simple observation to identify visible defects at goods-in, or you could make your analysis a bit deeper by testing a percentage of items received from the supplier. A lot will depend on the nature of your industry and the categories of supplies that you receive.The fundamental formula for measuring supplier defect rate is to take the number of defective items and divide it by the total number of items received or tested.Additionally, it will be essential to break the defects down by type, perhaps using a system of codes to help you target the most prolific issues for remedial measures.3. Emergency Purchase RateEmergency purchases are bad news for your business costs, continuity, and planning, and they also increase supply chain risk. However, you can only minimise them if you know about them. For that reason, the emergency purchase rate KPI is one you should certainly be keeping an eye on. Calculate it as a ratio of emergency purchases to total purchases for a given period.4. Purchase Order Cycle TimeCycle times are critical in the supply chain. The faster things happen, the less working capital is tied up, and the better your cash flow.Purchase order cycle time is a KPI that measures the elapsed time between raising a requisition request and the transmission of the purchase order to the vendor. If you prefer, you can also include the time taken for the vendor to respond with price information and confirmation of delivery scheduling.5. Supplier Lead TimeAnother cycle that’s worth measuring as part of a procurement KPI suite is supplier lead time—the time elapsed between the receipt of your order by the supplier and the moment of delivery at your goods-in facility. By shortening supplier lead time, you might find opportunities to reduce safety stock levels and gain other inventory management wins for your organisation.6. Cost per Purchase Order and Cost per InvoiceIn procurement, cost analysis is not just about the price of your company’s purchases. It also relates to the expenditure incurred in making them. For example, every purchase order costs money to raise and process, as does every invoice.It’s critical to understand these costs and their composition because by reducing them, you increase the profitability of your organisation. That’s why the cost per PO and cost per invoice KPIs are highly desirable measurements in any procurement manager’s arsenal of metrics.Does your company still use manual processes for raising POs and invoices? If so, these KPIs might reveal a solid case for upgrading to an automated solution—but you won’t know unless you’re actively tracking them.7. Vendor AvailabilityHow reliable are your suppliers? One way to get a handle on this is to measure their track record of product availability. Any time your vendor cannot supply you with a product to meet your order is an incident with direct consequences for your company.Of course, the consequences, and their seriousness, will depend on the criticality of the product, but availability challenges are never desirable. That should be enough of an incentive to consider product availability as a valuable indication of your suppliers’ reliability, provided your procurement team is ordering in line with any framework agreed with the vendor.To track vendor availability as a KPI, you need to measure the percentage of order lines (over a defined period) that the vendor cannot fulfill. The higher the ratio, the lower the vendor’s reliability.Other Supply Chain KPIs Procurement Teams Should TrackAll of the KPIs mentioned above are pretty specific to the procurement function of a business or organisation. There are a few other critical supply chain metrics, though, typically those used for end-to-end monitoring, in which any procurement professional should take a keen interest.Examples of these KPIs include:Supplier on-time performance: The percentage of purchase orders for which the supplier achieves delivery within agreed time windows.Supplier in-full performance: The percentage of orders, or order lines, that the supplier fulfills completely. Unlike the vendor availability KPI, supplier in-full measures all fulfillment failures relating to the quantity and quality of items ordered. For example, the products are available, but some items are lost or damaged during the shipping/delivery process, or the wrong quantity was picked in the supplier’s warehouse.Purchasing cost as % of sales: This KPI is of particular interest to an organisation’s executive team, to provide visibility into the impact of procurement on overall cost performance. For that reason, it makes sense to track it within the procurement function. In addition, when broken down further into the component costs, it can highlight departmental cost-saving or performance improvement opportunities.KPIs: Your Guiding Lights to Improved ProcurementA well-chosen suite of procurement KPIs will provide your organisation or enterprise with the visibility necessary to save money, improve service from vendors, and exercise greater control over the quality of your inbound supplies.While there is no clear-cut standard portfolio of indicators that suits every company, you should find that some, or all, of those summarised in this article, will align harmoniously with your organisation’s procurement strategy and objectives.If you need a little help to select and deploy appropriate KPIs in your procurement function, the team at Benchmarking Success is standing by. Contact us today to discuss your needs and find out how we can assist you in meeting them.Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on July 30, 2021, under the title “Know Your Supply Chain KPIs – Procurement” on Benchmarking Success’ website.Best Regards,Rob O’ByrneEmail: [email protected]Phone: +61 417 417 307

Tonebase – Catching the Second

Interview With Tonebase’s Piano Executive Ben Laude
In late 2019, Tonebase Piano was launched, with the aim of giving amateur pianists access to high level music education through premium online content featuring great artists. Since then, education has been trending even more in a digital direction because of the pandemic. Piano Street’s Patrick Jovell has talked to Ben Laude about the challenges he faced building Tonebase’s piano platform, but also about how to forge a unified music education, reconciling our physical and virtual realities.
Piano Street: Dear Ben, thank you for letting us interview you! From what I know you are responsible for the Piano at Tonebase. But you are not alone. I could count fifteen people working in your team. Among the founders I find Chris Garwood who is a guitarist. Can you tell me how it all started and how it has developed?
Ben Laude: First of all, thank you Patrick and to everyone at Piano Street for the resources you’ve been providing us pianists for decades now! I used to frequent the forums back in my conservatory days, mostly looking to pick fights with people about whose Rach 3 recording was the greatest (it was Horowitz and Reiner from 1951, I was convinced).
I joined tonebase in medias res about two years ago with a simple mandate: build the piano platform. The model I had at the time was tonebase’s original pilot classical guitar platform, which had been launched in 2017. Our three founders met at Yale, where two of them (Chris Garwood and Igor Lichtmann) were pursuing their master’s in guitar. They took their ‘Music and Business’ course more seriously than most, it seems, and ended up with a germ of a business plan. They connected with a comp-sci/econ double major whiz kid (Abhi Nayar), and the three of them officially founded tonebase in the summer of 2017. Their savvy and initial success led to getting involved with some Silicon Valley investors, with whom they secured funding to expand to another instrument. Piano was the obvious choice.
At the time I was hired, I was busy teaching and performing, and continued to assist David Dubal in curating his NYC piano performance series (a gig I had going back to my early grad work at Juilliard). I figured it was time to put the doctorate I earned in piano to proper use, and had started applying to tenure-track jobs in higher ed when the call for a tonebase ‘Head of Piano’ fell into my lap. It seemed a bit too good to be true, as I’ve had a second passion for media production dating back to high school, especially video editing. I’ve always enjoyed Bruno Mosaingeon’s interviews at the piano with Glenn Gould and wished more films like this existed with more pianists.
Ben Laude performing in concert
My first six months at tonebase were a mad scramble to recruit as many high calibre pianists and professors as I could and coordinate productions on various repertoire and pianistic topics. Garrick Ohlsson was one of the first major artists to say ‘yes’ – he and I met for coffee in New York the summer of 2019 and got lost in conversation about piano. He was clearly a great fit for our longform style of in-depth tutorial videos, and I owe a lot to him for being willing to contribute lessons to our launch. The next big challenge was organizing our post-production workflow with my teammates – editing the video and adding corresponding scores and workbooks to the platform. (I watched Ohlsson teach Chopin’s First Ballade and Third Scherzo over and over again for so many hours while editing those lessons, that I must have learned both pieces by osmosis – they’re now in my active repertoire and I can’t account for that based on practice-time alone.) We launched in late 2019 with about 30 videos and to-date we’re approaching 300 released, plus dozens more in our backlog waiting to be processed and released.
2020 was a bittersweet. It started off in January and February with some unforgettable productions, including two extended sessions with Leon Fleisher, just months before he passed. While Covid led to a higher demand for streaming services, it also became quite difficult to continue productions as before. I also began to direct my energies towards developing foundational musicianship content, beginner courses, and live programming, while continuing to pursue new collaborations with great concert artists and professors where possible. 2021 couldn’t have arrived soon enough. Our subscriber count has by now risen to over 5000; among our active users, about 40% are ‘serious amateurs’, 40% teachers/professionals, and another 20% or so younger students. We’re aiming to keep pace with our expanding base as we grow, and continue to provide a really exceptional and unique product to pianists of very different backgrounds. There’s also some major concert artists who will be added to our roster soon, including a few based in the UK/EU, and I look forward to producing with them later this year (hopefully in person, fingers crossed). We’re still a young platform, and I’m excited to see where we can go from here.
PS:You are a Juilliard trained pianist and you also function as a tutor, also on Tonebase. Which key questions on piano playing and interpretation have you nourished through the years and which come out in your function as a Masterclass moderator?
BL: While at Juilliard I grew fascinated by one of the core questions, or mysteries, of piano playing: that is, what is the relation between physical technique and musical expression. The more I investigated the problem, the more I discovered that musicianship training – i.e., deeply internalizing musical relationships in one’s mind, ear, and voice – can foster better interpretive ideas while also contributing directly to overcoming physical obstacles. In my tonebase lessons, I’ve tried to emphasize the importance of integrating music theory and aural skills into our practice at the keyboard, and we’ve been releasing more and more practical musicianship content for our users’ benefit.
These musicianship subjects are often taught in isolation, especially in the American conservatory systems I’m familiar with, so that your typical piano major will sleep through music theory class on Monday, mumble through solfege exercises on Tuesday, and show up on Wednesday for a private lesson. This results in an unfortunate separation between the intellectual comprehension of harmony and form, the aural recognition of musical relationships, and the physical realization of these principles in performance. (I should also mention a vital fourth element, the study of music history and culture, which takes place on Thursday and is forgotten about by the weekend!) It is no wonder why so many one-sided musicians have emerged from this state of affairs. How often have we encountered a pianist with “great technique, but nothing to say” or with “great ideas, but no chops,” or those who have great ears or analytical minds but never applied them at the piano?
Producer and tutor. Ben Laude is also featured in instruction videos at Tonebase.
The remedy, I have found, is a kind of well-rounded musicianship training where playing the piano is treated as a means for developing your musical personality, rather than as an end in itself. I don’t claim to know the best way to get there! But, I have familiarized myself with some traditions that I believe can help a great deal – for one, I’ve always found Nadia Boulanger’s method of keyboard skills training, with solfege and harmonic analysis mixed in, to be very useful. (The first time I ever performed Bach without a memory slip came after painstakingly working through the Fugue phrase-by-phrase, singing one voice while playing the others, then switching.) Committing to such training transforms our connection to the instrument, and over time a kind of holistic awareness starts to develop, which is just awesome. It becomes nearly impossible to play a given figuration or progression on the piano without hearing its component elements and knowing something about how they relate. Scores can be processed faster and memorization becomes much more rapid and reliable. Furthermore, these new sensitivities instantly inform how passages might be played, conjuring all sorts of possibilities about voicing, texture, phrasing, rubato, etc. Physically, the instrument begins feeling more like an extension of your arm, hand, and fingers, relieving tension and promoting facility.
There’s much more to this, but these are the basic contours of a kind of “musical fluency” at the keyboard that I believe all pianists should develop more thoroughly (including myself!), and which I hope to spread through tonebase.
PS: The line-up of artists and pedagogues on Tonebase is impressive as are the productions in question. The technology used is a proof of your ambition to give the viewer the best possible chance to get into the contents of the Masterclasses. One easily thinks about carefully directed momenta in order to secure the core message. As a “stage director”, how do you manage the different artists and personalities which all have their own fields of expertise and own articulated artistic/pedagogical universes?
Leon Fleisher teaching pianist Rachel Naomi Kudo Brahms’ B-flat major Piano Concerto.
BL: Pianists can be temperamental, particular people, and each of the artists on tonebase has a singular vision at the instrument that has been honed over decades. I’m lucky to work with one pianist at a time, since their perspectives often rub against each other. In some cases, they appear to be in direct opposition. For example, Leon Fleisher preached a rhythmically-strict, architectural approach to building phrases; Jerome Lowenthal insisted on a rhythmically flexible, narrative approach to interpretation. Who is right? Both, and neither, I suppose. What matters to me is that both have the floor, and are given a platform to demonstrate and defend their perspectives at the instrument. Then, it’s up to viewers to watch, absorb, and find what resonates with them. Pianistic wisdom comes in many varieties, sometimes contradictory!
Ben Laude in interview and Chopin session with Emanuel Ax.
In terms of stage direction, I do my best to steer and structure lessons without leaving my fingerprints all over them. Some artists, like Boris Berman, preferred to work more carefully with me in advance to develop a carefully articulated lesson plan. In other cases, artists were more comfortable speaking extemporaneously about their piece or topic. Garrick Ohlsson, for example, had a marvelous ability to spontaneously manifest highly structured lessons on the spot with very few retakes. One of the trickiest parts of the job has to do with building an ideal viewer in the mind of the artist. Professors are used to the give and take of engaging directly with a student in person, so speaking to an anonymous future student inside a camera can be alienating. If I can manage to make artists comfortable and be themselves, they forget about the artificial environment they’re in and their personalities shine through.
PS: This last year’s Pandemic situation has shown a necessary increase in consulting digital resources in music education. Institutions are now much more open to include such alternatives in their regular curricula. How do you predict the future for Tonebase and similar resources on the Internet?
One of the Scarlatti takes with Claire Huangci.
BL: I should say that I’m familiar enough with dystopian literature and film to be suspicious of the rallying cry to thoroughly digitize education. It has seemed inevitable since the advent of the internet and streaming services, but brick and mortar educational institutions were too thoroughly entrenched in social life to be uprooted like Blockbuster Video. Nevertheless, education had been trending in a digital direction when 2020 arrived. It seems like the pandemic just sped things up by a decade.
Discussing the piano concerto repertoire with John Kimura Parker.
The original mission of tonebase was about connecting amateur pianists to the otherwise insulated worlds of conservatory and concert hall. Therefore it relied on the coexistence, and separation, between offline institutions and online individuals. The amateur’s relative isolation from centers of high level music making and education was the problem we were solving by making the wisdom of great artists accessible and affordable. But what we found even before the pandemic was a widespread general interest in such premium online video content, from more amateurs on the periphery to professionals at the center of these institutions, plus many students and teachers in between. Now that the pandemic has created a situation in which everyone is isolated, including from their own institutions, there has been a need for virtual experiences of all kinds. Some are surrogates that will disappear once social restrictions are lifted, but it seems like others are here to stay. I see lots of potential for tonebase and other online resources to become staples of music education in the post-Covid future, both in institutional settings and private teaching.
You might think a subjective, sensuous discipline like music requires the flexibility of “offline” learning and would find less use in incorporating digital resources into the classroom or studio. Yet what I’ve found in observing tonebase’s appeal is that it’s precisely the elusiveness of music education that increases the value of any given artist’s video lessons. Whereas it might be interesting to hear the same calculus concept explained by five different math instructors, ultimately they’re each trying to communicate the same bit of knowledge. This is never quite the case with piano instructors, as there’s a wonderful lack of consensus about even fundamental principles of technique and interpretation. There are no axiomatic proofs to musical understanding or scientific laws to piano technique, there are only more-or-less-successful approaches developed and passed down through lineages of mentorship. Under the right circumstances, piano teachers should embrace this healthy relativism and utilize our video archive as discussion material during lessons. Having students weigh different approaches will help them think critically about piano playing, find solutions faster, and ultimately foster original artistry to a degree not possible if you only had access to the perspectives of one or two professors.
Screen capture from a digital workshop with Simone Dinnerstein.
On the other hand, often the point of a lesson is not to encourage an exploration of different viewpoints, but to focus on solving a student’s specific problems without the distractions of a second opinion. Even here, a digital resource like tonebase offers a lot of promise down the road. Private teachers often wonder what goes on during the 167 hours between lessons with a student, and having trusted, high quality video lessons and training videos available for the student to watch and practice along with could be a game changer. Teachers could be spending valuable lesson time working on the particular problems a student is facing while they entrust tonebase’s virtual instructors to do the job of introducing or reinforcing concepts and skills in the interim. Along these lines, I believe piano departments and music school libraries will find great value in making tonebase available to both students and faculty as a versatile teaching and training resource.
Garrick Ohlsson preparing for filming momentum.
Of course, in-person learning environments bring benefits that can’t or shouldn’t be reproduced by digital technologies, such as direct feedback from instructors and social interaction with peers. Music, as Boris Berman exclaims in a tonebase lesson, is “the art of sound,” and there’s something irreplaceable about experiencing sonic vibrations in person – making, sharing, and commenting on music together in the same space. Feedback can be digitally mediated to a degree, and tonebase has been increasing its live workshops and developing community feedback channels. But ultimately, the power of digital resources utilized in combination with in-person instruction remains unrealized, especially in music. The goal is to make tonebase a constructive force in reconciling our physical and virtual realities and forging a unified music education that draws from the best of both worlds. (And if all hell breaks loose and the machines do try to take over, I would expect the humanizing forces of music education to tame the robots and for tonebase to help keep our priorities straight!)
After filming session series with Boris Berman.

Emanuel Ax on Learning Chopin in Lockdown
tonebase recently visited the 7-time GRAMMY Award-winning pianist at his breathtaking home in the Berkshires for an extended interview and recording session.


The Transcription – Zlata Chochieva

Zlata Chochieva is one of the most interesting musicians of her generation, with her breathtaking technique and musicality as well as with her choice of repertoire. “(re)creations”, her latest CD, offers an exquisite collection of transcriptions by her great heroes, Rachmaninoff, Liszt and Friedman, and in the title lies the secret of this special art form, so closely related to the piano.

Please tell me how you are coping with these challenging times…
It is very difficult not being able to communicate with your audience, but it would be even more pity not to use that time as productive as possible. And I am happy and lucky to say that I have been busy! I took part in several online-concerts, and projects such as “Concerts in Quarantine” of the great film director Jan Schmidt-Garre, from the Schinkel Pavillon in Berlin, saved us, musicians, from silence. I also had a chance to focus my mind on my new CD project starting my collaboration with the Accentus label. It is always different and special to work in a recording studio, which is a completely different world, without audience. You are alone playing for microphones. In that moment you realize how important is to have another pair of ears behind the wall – the sound- producer. As you work on creating the sound together, as well as developing the most powerful and interesting interpretation. Working with Tonmeister Philipp Nedel became one of the most remarkable experiences I ever had.
Do you feel the arts in general are appreciated enough for the vital role they play in our society?
Not by many unfortunately. Especially nowadays culture has being put in a sleeping, silent mode. But one of the organizations which doesn’t allow musicians to feel forgotten is the Funk Stiftung that made my CD-project happen and generously supported the Berliner Klavierfestival digital edition where I was invited to play online in the Konzerthaus Berlin last May. Especially to Robert Funk I would like to express my deepest gratitude, as with his such a sincere and dedicated work he brings to music its true meaning and importance into this world.
The lockdown seemed to have influenced you also in the choice of repertoire.
Yes, this is an uncertain, lonely time when we became even more fragile and sensitive than we ever were before. I found my inner voice with the Schubert songs transcribed for piano by Liszt and it became the main impulse for creating a program which became very special to me. There is a stereotype that transcription is rather a virtuoso brilliant piano piece. But I wanted to show the genre Transcription from all different sides, and mainly as a re-creation of an original work that we know from before, putting it into a new concept that would make us find something different in it.
Transcriptions should sound like an original written for piano?
Yes, I want transcriptions to sound that way, because the piano has its own magical sound, and it would be a sad not to fully express it. There is no intention from my side to copy the sound of original works. Rather to make it sound as a true piano piece. You can compare it with poems in translation – Shakespeare, Pushkin. It will sound different but the meaning will remain the same.
With songs it often seems as if the expression is stronger in the piano version.
Yes, that is my feeling too, the vocal line always remained in the transcription, but the meaning of the text is being replaced by the musical expression itself. For instance, Rachmaninoff with the Tchaikovsky’s lullaby enriches the original accompaniment on such an extent that it becomes a magical solo, that sounds even darker in atmosphere than the original song.
The human voice has always been your starting point, and you make Siciliano by Bach, original for flute, sound like a song.
Indeed, the voice has always been the most important teacher for me. For Horowitz, one of the pianists I admire most, the cantabile was one of the qualities he wanted to convey most, and he was greatly inspired by the great singers of his time.
Do transcriptions influence your interpretation of original works for piano, of Chopin or Beethoven, for example?
In transcriptions, you almost automatically develop a feeling of being like a composer. There is more room for imagination and you learn a lot about the pianism of the transcribers. I have recorded all of Chopin and Rachmaninoff’s etudes, but I can hardly recall anything as difficult as Liszt transcriptions of Schubert’s songs or some of Friedman’s or Rachmaninoff’s transcriptions such as for example Scherzo from Mendelssohn’s Midsummer night’s dream. There are so many layers, each with its own color, sense of timing and we have just two hands to make it all sound as rich but light and natural as possible.
It sounds fantastic on your CD, and you take very fast tempo!
She laughs. It’s funny, in that Scherzo I’m only two seconds faster than Rachmaninoff himself. So I do have an alibi for that pace!
Tell me a little please about Liszt, Friedman and Rachmaninoff, the three transcribers on your CD.
All three have their own characteristics. Robert Schumann considered Liszt’s transcriptions as “new” works. But in his adaptation of Schubert and Mendelssohn songs Liszt tries to preserve the special authentic world of the songs. His work on Schubert’s songs is extremely delicate, as the power of that music lies in its vulnerability. Here Liszt is very faithful to the world of the original, whereas with the most of his transcriptions he usually presents himself more as the main character.
Friedman in his transcriptions was profoundly influenced by Busoni, to whom he even dedicated his transcription of the Tempo di Menuetto from Mahler’s Third Symphony. And especially in his transcriptions of baroque music, for example the Brandenburg Concerto on the CD, you can clearly hear the shadow of Busoni in the manner Friedman symphonically expands the sound and the ideas of the rather minimalistic original. Whereas Rachmaninoff modifies original works much more than Friedman does, he is more a coauthor and the chemistry between himself and a composer of an original is always very strong. He is never too massive but refined, as his pianism also was.
The last piece on the CD, a waltz by Eduard Gärtner in the piano version by Friedman, sounds like a nostalgic farewell.
As I mentioned before this program shows transcriptions from different sides and sometimes as an inner intimate piece. Also this program is very much related to what is known as the Golden Age of the Piano, when the piano world was so different from the general aesthetics of our time. Ignaz Friedman was as one of the greatest representatives of that special era that personally deeply influenced me too. This waltz would be one of the Friedmans typical encores and with its special warmth and nostalgia it reflects a very special way of story telling – when every listener feels the piano “speaks” privately, intimately to him only.
Author: Eric Schoones

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This article is a contribution from the German and Dutch magazine Pianist through Piano Street’s International Media Exchange Initiative and the Cremona Media Lounge.

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