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· Interesting post for those with music servers    posted Jun 14, 2019 (show)
· Universal Music 2008 Fire    posted Jun 11, 2019 by JimOfAllTrades (show)
  • Master Tapes Lost
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  • NY Times Magazine Article
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  • Universal Music, separate from the movie studio, lost their master tape collection of recordings in 2008 in a fire, and hid the fact with the passive acquiescence of the press (including the NY Times) until the story broke earlier this month, possibly as a result of ongoing lawsuits. Since records of the collection were also lost, it's not clear the extent of the damage, but probably the entire collection of masters they owned or had acquired and had provided rental storage space for was lost. This will make master-reissues impossible (if there were any such plans), as well as for any back-catalog unreleased materials.

    The industry is notoriously shady, and the quality of any recording compared to the true master should be doubted, even when marketed as having come from the master. It points to the need for artists and later their estates to maintain control over their own recordings--moving away from the factory model that has dominated for so long. Otherwise, everyone just loses out to industry insiders' cash grab tactics. While most consumers are happy with the sub-mp3 quality of streaming services, audiophiles have been almost naively hopeful that some semblance of quality could be obtained from original masters--though any such attempt would cut into the profits of the recording and often eliminate them when sales were only expected to be in the hundreds or thousands. The original recordings were of very high quality typically because the producers needed every available option when doing the mix, but the final consumer versions where made as cheaply as possible without much regard for sound quality. This disconnect has led to the neglect of old original masters in literal warehouses, and reissues made from MP3 digital copies, then marketed as new and improved. At least the fire allows the press to raise these issues with the general public for the first time probably since the introduction of the CD back in the early 80's.
· Anniversary for two of my friends    posted Apr 6, 2019 (show)
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  • My other hobby is target shooting. One of my dear friends that passed away last year in WA, had a BD today. It just so happens that one of my best friends in the Society, passed away a year ago tomorrow from ALS. Rest assured that I will be making two toasts tomorrow. One for my friend in WA and the second for my NJ friend. See you at the VPI meeting. It has been a long time between meetings for me, but having Cancer makes things like that happen.

    John P.
· Line Rider Strikes Again!    posted Mar 12, 2019 by JimOfAllTrades (show)
  • Beethoven will never be safe again!
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  • Our intrepid line rider heroes tackle the imposing B5, with hilarious results (at times).
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  • Comments:
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  • § Jim,
    Thanks a lot. That cheered me up. I've been depressed for awhile.
     ⤷ posted Mar 17, 2019
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· Cones of Silence??    posted Mar 12, 2019 by JimOfAllTrades (show)
· CAT-8 Ethernet?    posted Dec 23, 2018 by JimOfAllTrades (show)
  • Patented RJ-45 Plug Claims High Performance
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  • Link to Brochure
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  • Home adoption of Ethernet is on the wane as most people now choose WiFi instead of wired connections, but WiFi still isn't great for audio. It's fine for controlling audio servers, but sketchy for transmitting high resolution audio files. That doesn't bother the typical MP3 streaming home user. It's also barely possible to stream video over WiFi, though not recommended. The problem is video will hog the connection, denying everyone else in the home WiFi. Also, the feed has to be encrypted and then de-encrypted, adding to the bandwidth woes.

    Audiophiles should consider CAT-6 at a minimum, CAT-7 is shielded CAT-6, but has no true official spec. Optical/Fiber is now a great deal for home use at 1G speeds, but 10G and 40G are still expensive. The business world adoption of 40G will probably mean a price drop for 10G soon though. By cheap, 1G laser modules are $7 and the Ethernet adapters are $40. This is plenty fast for home use up to about 384K. You would need compatible cards, etc. and you would need all your gear to be 10G compatible to go any faster. Keep in mind that there is very little music available at super high resolution. The real gains are for 4K video, which is why new WiFi specs seems to come out every month.

    CAT-8 seems to be a way to get 40G performance by making better RJ-45 connectors. This would necessitate rewiring everything copper and tossing out any audiophile Ethernet cables. However, it might make a good final connection between and optical system and the server and/or computer. With fiber you won't need to rewire, but the end points will need upgrading. Another intriguing possibility is to simply use these better connectors on a slower system. Maybe they improve performance in traditional CAT-6 settings.

    Thanks to Phil S. for sending me this link.
· Hipster American Songbook    posted Oct 18, 2018 by JimOfAllTrades (show)
  • A Cynic's Guide to a Perennial Topic
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  • Slate article to read at your own peril.
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  • Since online journalism consists of mostly opinion pieces written by twentysomethings these days, we now have the insane mashup of the perennial "new american songbook" with hipsterdom. When culture feature article writers run out of ideas, they come up with a "new american songbook" list--essentially songs they would like to see live perpetually in the mainstream, even if they were never really well known to start with. You see articles like this all the time.

    What the writers gloss over is why the "American Songbook" exists in the first place. It has to do with desperate record producers, mostly. Say you are a producer and the new record doesn't quite have twelve songs yet--the artist has run dry. Heck it might be an album of covers. Or, you need to save some money on songwriters because your artist can't write their own material. What do you do??

    The answer is to do what other producers have done. In fact, they essentially share a list amongst themselves. It's a list that's been honed down to "things shown to have worked in the past". Experimental failures have been eliminated. We are talking about songs that meet certain criteria: widely familiar, easy to sing and arrange, nothing offensive, nothing too artsy. In other words, the songbook is about things that eventually get covered over and over again by multiple artists. These are not songs that get played by the public over and over, or sung at weddings, or used at live events like baseball games, but covered by other artists. They aren't going to be challenging. They aren't going to be obscure. They need to be singable by most artists. They need to allow simple (read: cheap) arrangements. They shouldn't offend anyone. There are reasons artists cover "Misty" and "Moon River" a lot. It helps that the original version is somewhat lost to time, because everyone knows where "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" comes from to the peril of remakes. Songs that eventually date themselves, like "Tea For Two" do fade, though never die.

    The problem for the songbook idea these days is the perpetual availability of the originals through streaming and the loss of the concept of an "album". Not only can bands and artists get away with releasing just singles, but unlike in the past, consumers are never far from the original or at least most popular version. Covering a song when there are ten versions on Spotify at everyone's fingertips is just inviting competition.

    The Slate article is ridiculous for several reasons: it contains songs from within the past five years--hardly time tested, it contains smash hits that will make the remakes pale by comparison, too many "difficult" songs, songs that are already dated, is too inflected by the choices of music critics and not producers, and the list misses whole classes of songs from other areas such as movies, TV shows, video games, Broadway, anime and other admittedly non-American sources. Latin-American hits are already beating songs sung in English for YouTube view numbers, and Asian pop hits can't be too far behind in the coming years. Gone also are the days that everyone knows the same core songs and therefore provide a ready list of starting material that producers can go to and not risk their necks.

    Where are covers coming from these days? Mostly the Eighties and still a lot of stuff from the Seventies; but since streaming has all of this covered, these fillers are going mostly unnoticed unless they are a TV theme song or pick something out of obscurity. That said, the artists doing the most covers are largely Latin, where the idea is more popular and sometimes allows the song to be translated into Spanish. Songs that aren't being touched largely come from earlier decades, particularly the sixties--though songs from the sixties were being covered almost from the moment they were released--traded around by producers like baseball cards--and artists often covered themselves by reworking their past material until they were satisfied with the results. It was the golden age of covers but seems to have exhausted itself.

    Of course, artists are probably less than thrilled to have released a new album only to see one of the covers be the biggest hit--their original material immediately fading into obscurity. A sale is a sale, I guess, though it's got to hurt some. Novelty acts like Susan Boyle come and go without leaving a legacy outside of aspirational karaoke circles. Singers these days have to provide the whole entertainment package: singing, dancing, personality, personal drama and sex appeal. They sell books and lines of clothing and make videos, appear in movies, TV shows, commercials, video games and magazines. They constantly market themselves on talk shows, Twitter and getting into "news cycles" with their antics. This all suggests the music alone is not self-sufficient nor self-sustaining. Will this just get worse over time?

    To get back to the Slate list specifically, the only song that might fit the bill is "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion. Its main weakness is the strong association with Madame Dion herself, eclipsing potential rivals without a fight, but a producer could throw together a cover in less than a day and it fits the other criteria really well, so it gets my vote. Caveat reader.
· What is an FPGA??    posted Oct 7, 2018 by JimOfAllTrades (show)
  • Often used in audio, but rarely explained...
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  • Wikipedia FPGA Article
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  • The Field Programmable Gate Array, or FPGA, is something you hear a lot about in audio circles, either with something digital like DACs, or sometimes with amplifiers. While a "Gate Array" is a series of selectable logic circuits, like AND, OR or NOR gates (basically transistors that handle logic commands), "Field Programmable" means you can alter the behavior of the circuit itself after it is manufactured. This is a lower level of generality than you get with a CPU inside of a computer, since any CPU comes with a fixed instruction set that any software built on top it (in resident memory) would have to obey. FPGAs, at least in their basic form, allow one to create what are essentially custom CPU chips on the fly (or, more likely, a custom microcontroller). This is a less expensive option than fabricating ones own chips, and has the flexibility to be altered later if necessary. One of the main uses for FPGAs therefore is in prototyping. Each FPGA design essentially becomes a CPU with its own I/O instruction set, but no resident memory. However, they rarely get to a level of generality that computer CPU's have, often designed to complete a relatively basic set of operations. They can be very fast and have high I/O.

    Modern FPGAs are more of a hybrid that lands between the raw basic designs of old and a modern CPU, as this makes them easier to program. Since the great expense is in the programming, and since the skills involved are highly specialized, making the easier to program lowers the cost of using them. However, the true FPGA will still allow programming at the gate level. A lot FPGA programming solves the same problems over and over again, so these are often built-in ahead of time to save the hassle.

    For any manufacturer, the decision to use an FPGA comes down to the cost/benefits over the total sales. If sales are high enough, then custom chip fabrication is warranted. If it lands in the FPGA sweet spot you pick those, and at the low end you would pick a standard microcontroller/GPU/CPU approach. GPUs are used to mine bitcoins, for example, because they have enough parallelism and memory in combination to be better than FPGAs for mining, and they are available at lower cost and greater numbers.

    An audio manufacturer can buy FPGAs and use them for their entire product line to spread out the cost. For example, on DACs at various price points, but the higher priced units might use more than one, or make improvements elsewhere in the circuitry to justify the costs.

    FPGAs are not priced at the hobbyist level yet, so for personal use the closest relative might be something like an Arduino board. Also, the learning curve for Arduino and things like the Raspberry Pi I/O boards is much lower. However, they aren't good enough to create anything like your own DAC or ADC. In theory, you could hook up stacks of $5 computers on a stick devices to make your own FPGA, but getting them to talk together reliably and powering them would be an enormous challenge. Any audio device that uses on shows the designer was pretty serious about research and development, and they wouldn't be found in mainstream playback devices from say Sony or NAD.
· Affordable CD ripping service    posted Aug 3, 2018 (show)
  • For those who don't want to rip your own CDs
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  • Progressive Labs
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  • At $1.00 per CD, it seems reasonable. If you are too busy to do it yourself, or too intimidated by the process, this service will load your CDs with metadata in any one of a variety of formats onto a hard drive you provide or purchase from them. All you do is connect the hard drive to your computer or music server, choose a streaming app, like the free Foobar2000, connect your computer or server to your USB DAC, and you are off and running. (I have no connection to Progressive Labs.)
· Guy exposed cable salesmen tricks,    posted Jul 11, 2018 (show)
  • gets kicked out of audiophile society
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  • High-End Mischief — Again!
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  • http://www.realhd-audio.com/?p=6236
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  • Comments:
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  • § Victor - Much ink has been spilled on the pitfalls of "double-blind" testing. Not that Waldrep doesn't have a point, but it makes the case for in-home demos. Store demos have always been only a starting point of limited value.
     ⤷ posted Jul 12, 2018
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  • § Phil,
    I have to disagree with the store demo quote. I have never had a store let me do an in home demo. Double-blind testing is a well used methods for drugs and other scientific trials. But things like audio, food and wines are far more subjective and unless some extreme mathematical precision is required (objective) I find that the work involved for double blind testing is not usually justified. In these cases it usually gets down to whether you 'like" something or not. The point is whether you hear a difference in two boxes or not. Whether I see a Bryston Amp or a Belles amp or I don't see them, it makes no difference in my opinion of them or whether I like one more than the other. Now if you are asking me to break down all the data differences that falls into the objective realm. Regarding my wine comment, could I tell the difference between a Chateau Latour vs. a Chateau Lafite whether I see them or not, no. But if you give me a Washington State Cab with one of aforementioned wines, I could tell one from the other. It also depends on how interested you are in sound, to note differences. I happen to be interested in both for a long time.
     ⤷ posted Aug 3, 2018
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· How-to Question    posted Jul 3, 2018 (show)
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  • I have an old Definitive Technology PF-15 subwoofer that I use only for the LFE signal from my surround receiver. Lately, the volume pot has been acting up. Sometimes, there will be no signal at all. When I turn it a bit, I can usually get a spot where the signal is restored. Any suggestions on how to safely clean this pot or fix it without opening up or removing the plate amp? Thanks!
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  • Comments:
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  • § Yes. Call me
    Izzy
     ⤷ posted Jul 3, 2018
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· Greenbrook Electronics Has Moved!!    posted Jun 26, 2018 by JimOfAllTrades (show)
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  • Hobbyist haven Greenbrook Electronics is no longer in Greenbrook! It has moved east about four miles to North Plainfield, now occupying its own building not too far from Sipersteins paint store and Gertrude Hawks Chocolates. They've consolidated their old store and two warehouses into one giant and roomy showcase. It would probably take an hour to wander around all the aisles. They could use better lighting though. It's much less convenient for me, now, but maybe not for you. If you have any useful info or tips about this move, please leave a comment below.
· Dave Wilson of Wilson Audio Passes    posted May 29, 2018 (show)
· Finally - Whisky and Vinyl, together!!!    posted May 24, 2018 (show)
  • Highland Park Full Volume Single Malt
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  • Post 306 Image
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  • Highland Park Full Volume
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  • I have actually had some of this whisky, although not one with the 7" vinyl record included. Not bad at all for this type of Scotch. Here's another review, with better pictures of the box and the story behind it: http://www.scotchmaltwhisky.co.uk/highlandparkfullvolume.htm
· Project to Buy Musical Fidelity    posted May 15, 2018 (show)
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