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Archive for the ‘Home Theater’ Category

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

Monday, November 24th, 2008

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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.

Popularity: 29% [?]

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

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

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.)

Popularity: 29% [?]

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

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

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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Popularity: 42% [?]

Wii Transfer - iTunes Music Library on Your Nintendo Wii

Friday, July 6th, 2007

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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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Popularity: 56% [?]

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

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

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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.

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

Popularity: 100% [?]

Vinyl + Digital Downloads - Why Not Lossless Digital Audio?

Friday, May 11th, 2007

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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).

Continue reading Vinyl + Digital Downloads - Why Not Lossless Digital Audio?

Popularity: 31% [?]

Hercules Wireless iTunes Controller - PSP Replacement?

Friday, March 30th, 2007

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My Sony PSP frustrates me. As a long distance remote in my listening room for my iTunes upstairs, it can be very slow when loading Coverbuddy/iTunes album art web pages. I have to wait for all the little album thumbnails to load on the page before I can pick the album I want and I guess because of the PSP browser’s poor caching every bit of the UI loads fresh including the play and skip buttons. The PSP/Coverbuddy combo is almost free so I put up with its clunkiness.

In moments of frustrated weakness, limited gadgets like the Hercules Wireless iTunes Controller look very attractive with its simple monochrome text display and scroll wheel:

Hercules Wireless iTunes Controller: The Hercules Tunes Explorer Wireless is yet another USB wireless iTunes remote control, but with a twist. It integrates a small back-lit LCD screen which ‘displays the song titles, play lists etc’ and so allows you to ’select your music without having to go to your computer.’ It has a side mounted thumbwheel for scrolling and since the device is RF and not infra red it is not limited to line of sight. I can imagine this could be a very handy little device for controlling your den computer from the bedroom, for example (provided of course that it’s compatible with the Airport Express).

The Hercules Tunes Explorer Wireless is €49.99 (~$65) and is PC as well as Mac compatible.

[Via Playlist]

I’ll stick with my PSP for now, but if you don’t have any iTunes remote the Hercules could overcome the feat.

(Via The Unofficial Apple Weblog.)

Popularity: 21% [?]

The Future of Recorded Music Media - Not So Fast CD

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

More than a year ago I made a promise to myself that I would stop buying CDs and only buy vinyl and downloads. Since no independent record shops exist in Chicago’s western suburbs (I hope to change that someday soon), this promise has been difficult to keep. The only vinyl source close to my day job is Virgin Megastore, their selection is hit and miss and their prices are normal retail if not a few dollars higher. Other Music owner, Josh Madell, envisions recorded music’s future without CDs, with only downloads and vinyl LPs left. From Wired’s Listening Post:

WN: Do you think CDs and MP3s can co-exist peacefully, sort of like the way vinyl and CDs live in harmony at your store?

Madell: Hard to say. CDs in some ways seem outdated next to MP3s. But as hard drives and players become more powerful and smaller, and internet connections improve, I could imagine CDs becoming of less interest. I think the time is not too far off where some releases come out on vinyl and MP3 only — no CD. But who knows.

Vinyl and downloads of the same album is the perfect blend of ultimate consumer sound quality (vinyl; not to mention album sleeve art, liner notes and resale value) and compromised convenience (digital downloads without the restriction of DRM).

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Popularity: 21% [?]

New Book - High-Performance Audio Systems

Monday, March 26th, 2007

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Robert Harley, the Absolute Sound’s editor in chief, has written a new book: Introductory Guide to High-Performance Audio Systems: Stereo - Surround Sound - Home Theater. Because so few books exist on my main topic of interest, high end audio, I already ordered it, sight unseen. I’ve learned many listening and system building skills from Harley’s previous books. I hope this new volume contains new information and isn’t simply a Reader’s Digest version of the other books.

Of the book’s contents, the inclusion of the now dead DVD-A and SACD optical coaster format is worrying, one would hope for some speculative coverage of HD audio on Blu-Ray and HD-DVD. Amazon’s description:

How to choose, set up, and enjoy the latest high-technology audio systems are all given expert insight in this indispensable guide for stereo shoppers. Consumers today often use home-audio systems for both stereo music and surround-sound music, they buy multichannel systems instead of two-channel stereo systems, they may have HDTV and flat-panel televisions, and they have largely moved to in-wall and on-wall loudspeakers rather than floorstanding units. Questions relating to all of these changes are covered in a novice-friendly way, as well as Super Audio CD, DVD-Audio formats, and all of the latest surround-sound formats for home theater. The emphasis is not only on solving shopping dilemmas, but also on getting great sound from an audio system.

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Popularity: 18% [?]

Arcam rDock Mates iPod with Solo Home Entertainment System

Saturday, March 24th, 2007

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Arcam is now selling the rDock, their audiophile iPod dock (not sure what the “r” stands for). The dock is part of Arcam’s Solo series of highly regarded integrated entertainment centers (not furniture but combo CD/DVD/processor/pre-amp/amplifier). Plus you can control the iPod with the Solo’s remote.

For $300 USD, the rDock sports high end electronic pre-amp components (fancy op-amps), vibration damping case, overbuilt, double regulated power supply and sturdy AV jacks. As most audiophiles know, steady battery power always beats dirty AC from your wall plug with blacker backgrounds and reduced digital hash. The rDock will not charge the iPod while music is played because Arcam feels the charging process introduces AC mains noise and degrades the sound quality of your Apple Lossless, WAV and AIFF songs (if you are listening to any lossy songs on your iPod then why are you buying Arcam gear?).

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Popularity: 22% [?]