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Selling my Pioneer DV-47ai to Raise Blu-Ray Money

November 24th, 2008 by Kyle Kolbe

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The time has finally come for me to jump on the Blu-Ray band wagon with my discovery of the Samsung BD-P2550 (finally a player that can decode all HD audio formats over its analog 7.1 outputs so I don’t have to invest in an HDMI capable HT receiver, plus HQV DVD upsampling all for $350).

Unfortunately, like every other middle class American, I cannot afford this new player without trying to sell my beloved Pioneer DV-47ai Universal Disc player. Boo. I guess I’ll have to settle for vinyl (heh) and uncompressed digital computer audio.

I’ve posted a classified ad for the Pioneer DV-47ai on Audiogon. Go check it out if you’re interested in great digital audio playback, I’ve sweetened the deal with a set of Black Diamond Racing Cones v3 and some SACDs and DVD-As. I have more pictures of the Pioneer at Flickr.

This Blu-Ray deal better be worth it. I spied the Samsung at the local Best Buy and was not impressed by its build quality: no heft, ports askew, fan, and a captive power cable. I’ll let you know how I like it after the holidays.

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TW Acustic Four Armed Turntable - WTF?

October 23rd, 2007 by Kyle Kolbe

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At only $20,000, TW-Acustic’s Raven AC four armed/motored monster of a turntable answers no one’s need to run and compare four different cartridge and tone arm combos on one turntable rig. I would not allow this thing in my house for fear that it would come alive at night and terrorize my children with its foreboding-quadruple-diamond-tipped-death-tubes. I can’t figure out if the tone arms and cartridges are included in the $20K price tag, maybe not.

Home Theater Hi-Fi’s comment from the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest:

Here’s a close-up of the turntable (TW Acustic - $20,000). Notice that there are four tone arms. I thought this might just be for demonstration purposes, but no, you can purchase it this way so that you can use different cartridges for various sound characteristics.

[via Secrets of Home Theater and Hi-Fi]

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M-Audio IE-10 Professional Reference Earphones Review

October 15th, 2007 by Kyle Kolbe

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I picked up the M-Audio IE-10 In-Ear Headphones over the weekend. They headphones are replacing my Ultimate Ears Super.fi 3 which just stopped working a few weeks ago (ugh, just before I was traveling, so I had to borrow way too bassy Griffin in-ears from Fuzzy). I had to wait for a Guitar Center replacement check to show up in the mail before I could go pick up the new earphones. Though I’ve only had the EI-10s a few days, my first impressions are so good that I had to post a quick review.

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Craziest Hi-Fi Room Interference Ever - “Paint Does Matter”

July 17th, 2007 by Kyle Kolbe

I was catching up on my obscure hi-fi blogs last night (is that the only kind?) and ran across this post from the Desirable Audio Boutique blog (I think they’re out of Malaysia and run a print rag called “AudioXpress”). This is definitely a case of taking the room interactions way too seriously. Paint? Really? Wet versus dry? Really?!?

paint does matter: “i just repainted my whole house. based of advice from wong tatt yew, i changed from ICI pearl-glo paint to pentalite, which is supposed to be better for the sonics.

lo and behold, when i switched on my system last night (with all the positionings and furnitures intact), it sounded vastly different and dare i say, slightly worse than be before. the midrange becomes brittle, hollow and slightly grainy and sibilance was high; it just doesn’t have the solidity and concentration of the previous sound.

i am no sure if that is caused by the new coat of paint not fully dried up but it certainly is an ear-opening experience for me. i suspect the moisture in the paint creates havoc in the sound reflection on the wall and maggie being a dipole, is one well of a sensitive speaker.

p/s i tried listening again tonight, it is much better now with the mids getting fuller and more bodied. amazing!

latest update: this is the 3rd day, and the sound has more or less come back in full force. i marvel the experience!”

I am painting my utility room this week and it is adjacent to my listening room, I can only hope that the new paint job doesn’t ruin my next listening experience (tongue firmly planted in cheek).

(Via Desirable Audio Boutique 欲望音响.)

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Defeat Scan Velocity Modulation to Unlock Your HDTV’s Full Potential

July 17th, 2007 by Kyle Kolbe

I just got back from a short vacation at my in-law’s house. In between going out to eat, getting kids down for naps and reacting to Paige’s “Daddy, will you play with me?”, I fiddled with my father-in-law’s TV picture menus. Watching television at their house is extremely frustrating because they have every channel available through Comcast cable, including a dozen high definition channels, but I couldn’t get their TV to look good by eyeballing the basic picture controls (contrast, brightness, color, tint, sharpness). The picture quality was always ruined by crushed whites and blacks and a harsh ringing around every edge of subject matter (eg, a crunchy white translucent halo surrounds every black line defining Spongebob Squarepants’ sponge body).

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Steve Albini’s 24 Bit Downloads and Home Audio Setup

July 6th, 2007 by Kyle Kolbe

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Oddly enough, Steve Albini (of Electric Audio recording studio, the bands Shellac of North America, Rapeman and Big Black) has been answering questions on a poker forum as a “micro celebrity.” He answers any question about favorite bands, musicians and recording sessions.

An interesting excerpt about digital and analog home audio listening:

Q: For your own listening pleasure, digital music (CDs) or analogue (vinyl)?
A: If I’m going to put on a record for pleasure, it will be a vinyl record, unless I’m at work. Understand though that I listen to original masters all day every day, and so I’m less likely than most people to want to throw on an album when I knock-off at midnight or whatever.
Q: Any thoughts on the new higher sample rate/bitrate SACD or DVDA releases?
A: Doesn’t matter, since both formats are now dead, but I think a greater bit depth (24 bits is plenty) grants a bigger quality improvement than increasing the sample rate. The downloadable version of the new album from my band (Shellac of North America) is available in compressed formats, but also 16-bit or 24-bit 44.1kHz versions [ED: these are 24-bit WAV files, I’ll have to research if these will work over my Airtunes setup (or I could maybe burn to a DVD with Roxio Toast). We did it as an experiment to see if anybody appreciates having it available.
Q:I thought the Bob Dylan and Rolling Stones remasters sound great on regular systems. Maybe SACD would be better.
A: No, I’m pretty sure they’re still going to have Dylan and the Stones on them.

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Wii Transfer - iTunes Music Library on Your Nintendo Wii

July 6th, 2007 by Kyle Kolbe

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I scored a Nintendo Wii a few weekends ago. Between Wii Sports Boxing sessions with Paige, my 3 year old (we each won a match), and throwing out my neck driving and putting in Super Swing Golf, I realized that I could use the Wii to send my digital music collection to the living room stereo. We’d been missing music upstairs in the kitchen/dining/living room area. I had even been considering getting a second Airport Express, especially since their price reduction, to handle music in the living room.

To my surprise the Wii can stream music through its Internet Channel. A buddy at my day job recommended Wii Transfer by Riverfold Software to handle this task. Wii Transfer gives you access to both your iTunes music library and iPhoto albums through the Wii’s Opera browser. It can also transcode video files to a format the Wii can understand when copied onto an SD card and viewed through the Photo Channel, and backs up game saves.

Wii Transfer works as advertised though it has some annoying limitations (though some may be the Wii’s limitations):

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HowTo - 5 Easy Steps to Output Dolby Digital from Quicktime Player

July 5th, 2007 by Kyle Kolbe

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I went through the frustration last night of trying to play a video off my MacBook Pro with a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack. By default the Quicktime Player down-mixes the soundtrack to stereo and sends this out over the MacBook’s optical audio connection (it’s the same output as the headphone jack, just connect a Toslink cable with a mini-plug adapter, just like digitally connecting an Airport Express). I had a hard enough of a time getting Dolby Digital to output that I thought I would share the steps you need to follow to output Dolby Digital from Quicktime Player.

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Blade Runner Final Cut DVD - New DVD Feature Details

June 22nd, 2007 by Kyle Kolbe

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Following up on my earlier Blade Runner Final Cut post, I found this unofficial product mock up and disc set feature details and that we’ll get the official announcement at the San Diego Comic Con.

Here’s the feature list courtesy of Binary Bonsai:

Disc 1 - The Final Cut (2007):

  • Ridley Scott’s definitive new version of his science-fiction masterpiece includes added & extended scenes, added lines and new and cleaner special effects.

Disc 2 - 3 Complete Film Versions:

Disc 3 - ‘Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner’ Documentary

  • Newly created documentary: Through interviews with the cast and crew, critics and colleagues, this feature-length documentary provides a mainstream-friendly yet meaningful in-depth look at Blade Runner’s literary genesis, its challenging production and controversial legacy. When all is said and done, this will be the definitive documentary on the film.

Disc 4 – Enhanced Content Bonus: (TBC)

  • INCEPTION - Featurettes and galleries devoted to Philip K. Dick, the birth of Cyberpunk and adapting the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.
  • PRE-PRODUCTION - Featurettes and galleries devoted to script development, conceptual design and abandoned sequences.
  • PRODUCTION - Featurettes and galleries devoted to principal photography and locations.
  • POST-PRODUCTION - Featurettes and galleries devoted to deleted scenes, music and visual effects.
  • RELEASE - Featurettes and galleries devoted to marketing and reaction including Trailers, TV Spots and Promotional Featurettes
  • LEGACY - Featurettes and galleries devoted to the film’s resurrection and impact.

Disc 5 - Work Print Version & Enhanced Content:

  • Including the rarely seen Work Print version and potentially the 52 min. Channel Four (UK) documentary which was the first serious documentary created for the film.

Additionally, the set will come packaged in a limited ‘Blade Runner’ briefcase holding the five-disc digipack with foil-enhanced and embossed slipcase. The goodies inside will include a lenticular motion image from the original feature, a collectible model spinner, an origami unicorn, a collection of photographs and a letter from Ridley Scott.

When I mentioned that the “Voight-Kampf” brief-cased collector set to Beth over dinner last night, she responded, “Nerd alert, nerd alert… Why the hell does it come with an origami unicorn?” I took her question seriously, “Because the Miami Vice police chief guy [we don't watch Battlestar Galactica] would leave little origami sculptures for Harrison Ford and it somehow meant he was a replicant, though I don’t agree with this interpretation.” Paige concluded the conversation with, “Oooh, unicorns!”

(Via Cyberpunk Review.)

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Vinyl + Digital Downloads - Why Not Lossless Digital Audio?

May 11th, 2007 by Kyle Kolbe

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Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible was finally released on vinyl (Merge copy: “LP is double 180-gram audiophile quality with three sides of music and an etching on the fourth side.”). I picked up my copy yesterday after work. On the way home I noticed a red sticker on the shrink wrap promising a coupon for digital downloads (pictured above).

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