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Archive for the ‘Multi-Channel Audio’ Category

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.

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Popularity: 100% [?]

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% [?]

Now You Can Enjoy Hi-Fi Music and Movies in One System - Connection Diagram

Saturday, September 30th, 2006

Hi-Fi and Movie Connection DiagramThe above hi-fi music and home theater hybrid connection diagram shows how I connected my system for best performance with both music and movies as I explained in the previous post (click diagram for a larger view).

No matter the source, analog or digital, I run the front two channels and subwoofer through the analog amplification section (orange and down the left in the chart). The Rogue 99 pre-amp has an home theater bypass switch. When the switch is flipped to the HT position the pre-amp does not need to be on, all of its circuitry is, uh, bypassed and the Onkyo L/R pre-amp outputs flow straight to the Anthem MCA-2 amp and Hsu VTF-2 sub; when the switch is in the pre-amp position the Onkyo is out of the loop and I can listen to my analog sources (turntable, CD and the Onkyo receiver's DAC'ed Airtunes) straight through the Rogue 99 pre-amp and Anthem amp using its volume control.

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Popularity: 29% [?]

Now You Can Enjoy Hi-Fi Music and Movies in One System

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

Who has the space and money for separate home theater and music systems in different rooms? I don’t, and neither does anyone I know. So we are all stuck with systems we built around a large TV screen, mesmerized by pretty DVD and HD video. Even if you spent a load of cash on a “flagship” AV receiver like I did (my Onkyo TX-DS989), telling your spouse it would be the last “stereo” you would have to buy to justify its cost, you’ll be disappointed by electronic compromises hidden in the “do everything” receiver. That fancy AV receiver is obscuring the best music from you because internal components share power supplies between seven channels of amplification, crowded in with DACs, FM tuners, DSPs and multiple in and out video circuits and good luck with the phono stage. So what can you do if you want the best music and home theater playback through the same system?

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Popularity: 11% [?]

Jurassic Park DVD’s DTS Soundtrack Bites Me in Half

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

We watched Jurassic Park over the past two nights (it’s not overly long, we just have to start it late after my daughter’s in bed and the sun sets). Steven Spielberg’s movie holds up after all this time in only a few areas. Some of the actor’s performances (I’ll tell you who sucked: John Scottish-old-man, his grand daughter, the little kid at the opening dinosaur dig site that Sam Neill threatens to gut, and the hatchling velociraptor—so wooden, like an animatronic puppet covered in strawberry jelly popping out of an egg) were standard Spielberg over-emoticons, the writing is a little forced in the science-y parts as described by Jeff Goldblum (if you liked Michael Crichton’s take on cloned dinosaurs you’ll love what he has to say on the "myth" of global warming), the effects are great when the monsters are puppets and not CGI, in those scenes the filmstock gets all grainy and soft. What I really couldn’t believe was the sound of those dinosaurs.

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Popularity: 12% [?]

Howto: In-Ceiling Speaker Install - Audio Concepts B-Flat Coax 8″

Tuesday, April 18th, 2006

Audio Concepts B-Flat Coax 8" SquareThis weekend I finally got around to finishing my Audio Concepts B-Flat Coax 8" in-ceiling surround speaker install. I detached the B-Flats from their ceiling mount and stuffed fiberglass insulation (the cotton candy kind, rated R13) in the cavity between ceiling joists. According to the B-Flat installation instructions and in-ceiling/wall tips elsewhere, the insulation should improve sound quality. The end result was not what I expected.

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Popularity: 10% [?]

Criticalear.com - Audio Perfectionist Journal Crew Online

Friday, April 14th, 2006

The only hifi and home theater reviewers/experts I trust, Richard Hardesty and Shane Buettner, have expanded their print magazine, Audio Perfectionist Journal, and moved its past and future articles that can’t fit in the Journal to the Critical Ear. The Critical Ear’s Mission:

Our intent is to give readers the information needed to extract every ounce of enjoyment and passion from this wonderful hobby and to make intelligent purchasing decisions on hardware and software. This is in contrast to the biased and/or misleading information presented in advertising-supported publications and from self-proclaimed experts on the Internet who disseminate misinformation for free. Our standing as consumer advocates dictates that we will act as watchdogs to alert consumers whenever we feel they are being misled.

The Critical Ear will offer in-depth feature articles of unparalleled quality that teach you how to get the most out of the hi-fi you have now, and we’ll review equipment that matters in a thorough, logical, and methodical fashion so you can not only purchase the best equipment, but purchase the equipment that represents the best value for any budget.

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Popularity: 59% [?]

Ivie IE-35 Audio Analysis System - Magic Bullet for my Theater Room Setup

Thursday, April 13th, 2006

Ivie IE-35The IE-35 Audio Analysis System gives me serious calibrator envy:

The IE-35 Audio Analysis System from Ivie is a second generation, calibrated, handheld audio instrument delivering a broad range of acoustical measurements displayed in stunning color. In-the-field functions include real time analyzer measurements (RTA), sound pressure level (SPL) measurements, seat-to-seat level variation measurements, strip chart recordings of sound level over time, polarity checking, oscilloscope measurements, Noise Criteria (NC/NR) measurements, a built-in signal generator, audio level volt meter, RT60 reverb and more.

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Popularity: 60% [?]

Real Life DRM Problems: Atlantis the Lost Empire DVD

Wednesday, April 12th, 2006

Most of the time I just want to casually watch a movie. I don’t need to own every DVD I have a passing interest in. I even have trouble watching movies I really love more than once. Back in 2001, I was browsing the Michigan Ave Borders in Chicago and found the Atlantis the Lost Empire Illustrated Script. I discovered after a few pages that one of my favorite comic book artists, Mike Mignola, designed all the characters and mecha. Later, in Hollywood Video I rented the non-special edition DVD. When I watched the disc through my home theater set up, I was disappointed that its Dolby Digital soundtrack was broken.

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Popularity: 34% [?]

LTB 5.1 Personal Home Theater Headphones Review

Thursday, March 30th, 2006

LTB 5.1 HeadphonesWhen you have a family, you constantly have to deal with differing sleep schedules. Toddle_o_Geek goes to bed by 8 PM, Wife_o_Geek passes out by 10 PM and I like to stay up till whenever. Those times when I stay up late or even when my wife is enjoying some other form of entertainment in another part of the house (usually Desperate Housewives) I can’t raise the home theater’s volume to a level where I can hear a Eastern Bloc commando sneaking up from my back left speaker. LTB Surround Headphone ads crept into my periphery vision while reading home entertainment magazines for the past few months. Curious, I checked out their website and immediately decided I couldn’t afford their nice wireless surround headphones. A few weeks ago, after reading one too many reviews involving wireless audio that mentioned hiss, I abandoned the wireless headphone idea likening it to leisurely riding a bicycle down an expressway, not pleasent. A scouring of a few online forums (they’re never wrong) led me back to LTB. Maybe I could afford some wired surround headphones.

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Popularity: 39% [?]