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Archive for the ‘Convergence’ Category

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):

Continue reading Wii Transfer - iTunes Music Library on Your Nintendo Wii

Popularity: 55% [?]

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: 30% [?]

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: 20% [?]

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).

Continue reading The Future of Recorded Music Media - Not So Fast CD

Popularity: 21% [?]

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?).

Continue reading Arcam rDock Mates iPod with Solo Home Entertainment System

Popularity: 22% [?]

Why I Need an HDTV Capable HTPC

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

I miss HDTV.

Last year I gave up my HD satellite STB as part of a household cost cutting plan. I only had the box downstairs on the big screen and never watched it for two reasons: warming up my projector and turning on my whole home theater system didn’t fit with my desire for instant TV gratification and the STB had no time shifting/PVR facilities (essential to any TV viewer but more so if you have kids that don’t appreciate midwest prime time).

Recently, I caught a glimpse of HDTV and thought, “Wow, that looks really good, much better than my upscaled DVD video, I should really finally build an HTPC.”

Before dropping any money into video cards and large hard drives I wanted to assess my current HTPC (home theater personal computer) capabilities:

Continue reading Why I Need an HDTV Capable HTPC

Popularity: 20% [?]

Exact Audio Copy Finally Works on a Mac

Saturday, February 3rd, 2007

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The latest Parallels Desktop build (3150) was released this week and it finally has a virtual CD drive that Exact Audio Copy (EAC) recognizes. With previous versions, I always got stuck trying to test the CD drive in EAC’s setup wizard. Now I just need to find some advanced EAC tutorials and I can start ripping better than perfect digital copies of my favorite (or for more fun, worst sounding) CDs into lossless formats (Apple Lossless for me).

After I’ve ripped a few CDs I may also check out Foobar’s Windows playback and find out if it really makes a difference over a Mac OS iTunes, as suggested by Empirical Audio.

Happy Exact Audio Copying Parallels users.

Popularity: 24% [?]

Transfer Your LPs to High-Res 24/96 DVDs

Monday, January 29th, 2007

AudioXpress, the only DIY audio hobbyist print mag, recently published a great how to article about transferring your LPs to DVD audio (though not necessarily DVD-A). Transferring LPs to DVDs in High Resolution by Victor Skaggs (PDF download) is the most detailed LP digitizing article I’ve encountered (Hi-Fi News recently published another how to, but stopped a CD quality audio). As a bonus Mr. Skaggs does all his digitizing on a Mac using affordable software and hardware (with many low and high end alternatives). He’s so into digitizing LPs to high resolution audio that he’s discovered hidden features in Roxio Toast and had features added to Toast (music-only DVD authoring) and ClickRepair (96 kHz file support). I wish I had as much ambition and input with my software tools.

Since my successes with ripping CDs to lossless audio files (with MAX) and listening through my low jitter Airport Express, I’ve wanted to compare a high resolution LP to digital transfer to the digital CD originals. By Victor Skaggs’ comments, I’d have to think the transferred LP would win followed by lossless audio and CD last.

When I get a free weekend I’ll pop open my Rogue preamp, flip the second outputs to fixed and hook it up to my MacBook Pro. Following the AudioXpress article, I’ll record Shellac’s At Action Park, clean it up and burn a 96/24 DVD (or 192/24 DVD-A if I can figure that out). Watch out for the head-to-head test.

(via Macintouch)

Popularity: 26% [?]

iPhone Not True Widescreen - Hope for a 2.35:1 Video iPod

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

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Engadget is reporting that though Apple boasts a “widescreen” display for the iPhone, its screen is actually a non-standard aspect ratio:

Well, anyone who sat in Moscone Center to witness the holy unveiling surely noticed the screen cropping (letterboxing) that occurred when Steve played Pirates of the Carribean. That’s because the iPhone isn’t “widescreen” as the term is customarily understood outside of the reality distortion field — it is not a 1.78:1 (16×9) aspect ratio. Rather, the display utilizes a 1.5:1 aspect ratio.

via Engadget via Crave

Apple has a history of creating and then filling its own hardware niches. Large capacity video iPods for those that enjoy watching David Caruso wince on CSI: Miami, iPod Nanos for jewelry and compressed music lovers and the iPod Shuffle for random players who lost the bolo piece from their bolo tie. The iPod family members all have distinct hardware bonuses and shortcomings that complement each other. So the iPhone isn’t really widescreen, does this leave the possibility open that a new device will fill our widescreen video needs? Will iPhone customers become frustrated while they watch 300 in a thin strip of a 2.40:1 letterbox?

Could Apple’s strategy be to introduce the iPhone’s new on screen dual touch, storage and display technologies to refine them over time and once popular reduce their cost to meet a true widescreen video iPod? Imagine a 16×9 screen dominating the gadget’s full front face, all AV controls on the dual touch screen for the same price as today’s 80 GB iPod. Like a large storage Sony PSP without the D-Pad and buttons (oh, and games, have to remember the PSP plays games).

Maybe all the dual touch patent rumor mock ups were right, we just have to wait for the iPhone to become a commodity and piss off enough videophiles to introduce the true widescreen video iPod. Though I’m sure true videophiles would prefer a 2.35:1 aspect, constant height screen with little velvet curtains on the sides to aid contrast when windowboxing squarer ratios (as mocked up above). Introducing the cinePod (as in Cinescope). Heh.

Popularity: 14% [?]