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Speaker Dust Cap Dent Repair · As pre­vi­ous­ly not­ed in this space, I’m a de­ranged au­dio­phile, and for some years my speak­ers of choice have been from Totem, out of Montréal. In a re­cent ren­o­va­tion a woofer got a dent in a dust cap, where by “dent” I mean it was pushed in. I’m post­ing the so­lu­tion here in the hopes that fu­ture searchers will find it ...
 
The Wrath of Heaven · May it af­flict in­ter­mit­tent left-channel out­ages, and an au­dio­phile neigh­bor who lives for op­eretta, on the gorm­less en­thu­si­asts who mal­ad­just the au­dio in the car-share cars so ev­ery­thing sounds like a Bad Hair Band ...
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CL XXVII: Cheap Audio · We’ve fi­nal­ly ar­ranged, af­ter five full years of Cot­tage Life, for mu­sic play­back. There were com­pli­cat­ing fac­tors, no­tably my be­ing a de­ranged au­dio­phile; and the in­stal­la­tion isn’t 100% com­plete. But it sounds nice, and I’ve al­ready saved $259,404.01! ...
[5 comments]  
AV Receiver · Be­ing the sto­ry of how I stum­bled in­to buy­ing one, and why you might want to al­so. If you’re any kind of Home-Theater wee­nie you’ve al­ready had one for a decade or more and you can safe­ly skip this. On the oth­er hand, if the col­lec­tion of box­es plugged in­to the big TV has grown like fun­gus and the rat’s-nest of wires be­hind it has be­come in­tim­i­dat­ing, read on ...
[10 comments]  
Why Vinyl? · As an en­gi­neer and In­ter­net guy, I feel al­most guilty about the fact that I like lis­ten­ing to LPs so much; the tech­nolo­gies used to record the mu­sic and play it back should be ob­so­lete. But I do ...
[12 comments]  
High-Fidelity Harmony · I’ve been med­i­tat­ing about au­dio fi­deli­ty re­cent­ly, un­der the in­flu­ence of The Civ­il Wars and Jeff At­wood ...
[17 comments]  
Living in the Future · The oth­er day I got a Roku and some Plex soft­ware; now ev­ery­thing in the house is con­nect­ed to ev­ery­thing, and to the Net, and remotely-controllable from our mo­biles. It feels pret­ty mag­ic ...
[2 comments]  
Road Music · I spend quite a bit of time in ho­tel room­s. This is how I ar­range my mu­si­cal back­drop ...
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Audéo · I’ve been lis­ten­ing to a Shure 3C in-ear head­set for sev­en years; wow! It’s been just fine; but on a re­cent flight a clum­sy seat­mate bent the jack, so I need­ed some­thing new. Audéo is made by Phonak, a Swiss out­fit who’ve his­tor­i­cal­ly been about hear­ing aids not mu­sic. Ap­par­ent­ly the dis­ci­plines are close­ly re­lat­ed, be­cause the Audéo PFE 122 of­fer­s, by a wide margin, the best head­phone sound I’ve ev­er heard ...
[10 comments]  
Remote Harmony · We fi­nal­ly got a uni­ver­sal re­mote for the video set­up at home. We’re not ear­ly adopters and this is a pret­ty main­stream cat­e­go­ry, so quite like­ly you know all about it. In case you don’t, just want­ed to say that Log­itech Har­mo­ny 650 is a super-nice prod­uct and works re­al­ly well for us ...
[5 comments]  
System 9 · I own too much stuff and have be­gun to hate my pos­ses­sion­s. I love a few things stil­l, no­tably not in­clud­ing any com­put­er tech­nol­o­gy, some of which can be ad­mired for a brief pe­ri­od be­fore it is su­per­seded, and I en­joy help­ing that pro­cess along. The things I love in­clude a few pic­tures, some book­s, but most­ly hand-made ar­ti­facts that pro­duce mu­sic: chief among these would be my cel­lo (although that re­la­tion­ship has be­come com­plex), my djembé, and my record play­er. I know it’s a “record player” be­cause I bought it from the man at record­play­er.­com; please fol­low that link be­fore mov­ing on ...
[20 comments]  
Bye-bye A&B · Not un­ex­pect­ed­ly, A&B Sound has gone out of busi­ness. This one hits me pret­ty hard. Does music-on-disc have a fu­ture? ...
[18 comments]  
Totem Thunder · Ear­ly this year, I re­con­fig­ured the video set­up, among oth­er things adding a lit­tle Velo­dyne “MiniVee” sub­woofer that worked re­al­ly well, but made me think that per­haps the big Se­ri­ous Mu­sic sys­tem could ben­e­fit from sub­woofer love. So I added a Totem Thun­der; here­with an unashamed­ly sicko-audiophile (but quan­ti­ta­tive, with mea­sure­ments) frag­ment that ob­sess­es about mu­sic in gen­er­al and Real­ly Low Fre­quen­cies in par­tic­u­lar; with a side-trip to a church in Paris. I’ll pro­vide some in­tro­duc­to­ry ma­te­ri­al in hopes of maybe lur­ing in­no­cent read­ers in­to this ob­ses­sive and ex­pen­sive hob­by ...
 
Hi-Fi? · I gath­er that on stage to­day, Mr. Jobs freely flung about the word “audiophile” while pitch­ing the new iPod Hi-Fi. Wel­l, I’m one of those: wrote for the mags, have gear from ob­scure Bri­tish man­u­fac­tur­ers, turn off a fridge thir­ty feet away to lis­ten. I’ll look for­ward to giv­ing the Hi-Fi a lis­ten. It seems fan­tas­ti­cal­ly du­bi­ous that some­thing 43 cm wide, with a list­ed bass floor of 53Hz (the bot­tom string on a bass is 42Hz), weigh­ing 6.6kg, and cost­ing $349, could ac­tu­al­ly pro­duce “audiophile” sound. But you know, it’s not im­pos­si­ble; if they de­sign for truth and ac­cu­ra­cy as op­posed to fake-bass thump and scary vol­ume, it could turn out to be pret­ty use­ful. In which case, it’d be a com­plete waste to play your av­er­age iTunes-store-sourced lo-rez lossy-compressed MP3 through it. But you can get au­dio­phile sound out of your iPod, and for quite a bit less than $349. Go out and buy one of the good in-ear head­phones from Ety­motics or one of their com­peti­tors (I use the Shure 3C) and, most im­por­tant of al­l, get your mu­sic off CDs and use loss­less com­pres­sion. The D/A in an iPod is re­al­ly not bad at al­l; if you send all of the mu­sic through it and play it through first-class trans­duc­er­s, you’ll be hap­py. (By the way, is it just me or is this thing butt-ugly?)
 
Velodyne MiniVee · A year ago last fal­l, we got a plas­ma TV for high-def; 90% of the time it’s on, it’s tuned to a sports even­t. So sound qual­i­ty, even for a con­firmed au­dio wee­nie like me, just wasn’t a big deal, and I plugged in a pair of ex­cel­lent lit­tle PSB Al­pha speak­er­s, $299 or so if I re­call cor­rect­ly, and they were plen­ty good enough. The on­ly prob­lem was, where the TV’s sit­ting there’s hard­ly any room to spare ei­ther side of the screen, and the PSBs stuck out in an ug­ly and awk­ward way. So I dropped by the Box­ing Day sale at Sound Plus, my friend­ly lo­cal high-end sa­lon, and picked up a cou­ple of de­cent lit­tle KEF mini-speakers that fit in be­side the screen and sound per­fect­ly de­cent if you don’t ask them to play any low notes, which I left to a MiniVee sub­woofer from Velo­dyne and I have to say, it’s a hon­ey. Rather than us­ing the spe­cial­ized sub­woofer feed, I ran the preamp-out line-level sig­nals from the nice old NAD in­te­grat­ed amp through the Velo­dyne and back to the power-in, which has the use­ful side-effect of rolling off the sig­nal at 80Hz, so the lit­tle KEFs don’t have to waste en­er­gy try­ing to go where they can’t. The Velo­dyne has a clever cir­cuit where it pow­ers down and wakes up when it sees an in­put sig­nal. It sounds good; not close to the Totem Forests on the big music-only sys­tem; but for the price, re­mark­able. I’m sit­ting here typ­ing this lis­ten­ing to the Am­bi­ent chan­nel from Galax­ie (that’d be chan­nel 904 if you’re on the Star Choice satel­lite), and while ad­mit­ted­ly it’s brain goo not mu­sic, it’s very silky-sounding goo that’s al­so giv­ing me a friend­ly kid­ney mas­sage on the low notes.
 
The Great CD Migration · I’m be­gin­ning to think about mi­grat­ing my CD col­lec­tion to hard disk, and it’s start­ing to be fea­si­ble (even for a hard-core au­dio­phile), but there are some in­ter­est­ing music-technology is­sues. [Up­date: Wow, did I ev­er get feed­back; this area is action-packed.] ...
 
Podcasting · I may not en­tire­ly get it, but I can’t ig­nore it, so here­with some thoughts and pre­dic­tions on the sub­jec­t, plus ob­vi­ous­ly, a tee­ny lit­tle pod­cast ...
 
Live Radio Mmmmmmmm · I’m sit­ting here try­ing to work, but dis­tract­ed be­cause we have the CBC turned up on the good ra­dio through the big speak­er­s, lis­ten­ing to In Per­for­mance; tonight it’s the Ed­mon­ton Sym­pho­ny play­ing the Eroica. The sound is ex­traor­di­nary; get the mix­ers and dub­bing and multi-tracking out of the way, hook up the mi­cro­phones to the broad­cast gear and turn on some good re­ceiv­ing hard­ware, and it does a bet­ter job of putting you in the room with the or­ches­tra than most record­ings do. High­ly rec­om­mend­ed.
 
The Problem With Online Music · The New York Times to­day hits the nail on the head: if you’re buy­ing mu­sic over the net, you’re buy­ing it in severe­ly dam­aged con­di­tion. When I plug my com­put­er in­to the re­al­ly good stereo at home, the dif­fer­ence be­tween the way mu­sic sounds com­ing off CD or vinyl or a good FM sig­nal, and the crip­pled ver­sion from MP3 com­pres­sion isn’t sub­tle. I used to think that if you were lis­ten­ing to mu­sic on head­phones on a bus or train or plane or in a crowd, the MP3 los­sage re­al­ly didn’t mat­ter much. But re­cent­ly I’ve been lis­ten­ing to the Shure 3C phones, and it’s ob­vi­ous that we re­al­ly shouldn’t be ig­nor­ing these com­pres­sion is­sues; in par­tic­u­lar since loss­less com­pres­sion is avail­able right here, right now.
 
High-End iChat · I should con­fess that I am the worst kind of ob­ses­sive high-end au­dio wee­nie. For­tu­nate­ly, it’s my on­ly re­al­ly ex­pen­sive hob­by; I dis­tinct­ly pre­fer beer to cham­pag­ne. Any­how, this cre­ates a prob­lem: when you up­grade your sys­tem to get bet­ter sound, what do you do with the old stuff? High-end gear tends to last more or less forever, and un­like com­put­er­s, is usu­al­ly 80% as good as what you re­place it with. So, I’ve used some of that stuff to cob­ble to­geth­er a home-office sys­tem. I’m tak­ing the au­dio feed out of my Pow­erBook via USB to a (now ap­par­ent­ly dis­con­tin­ued, sigh) Stereo-Link D/A con­vert­er, then through very de­cent Linn in­ter­con­nects to an all-tube (and very beau­ti­ful) Cary Au­dio De­sign “Rocket 88” pow­er am­p, driv­ing a pair of the orig­i­nal Totem “Model One” speak­ers (a dozen years old now). You can bet that I’m hap­py that iTunes now in­cludes a loss­less mu­sic en­coder; I’m go­ing to have to go back and junk all the ex­ist­ing MP3s I’ve ripped and grab ’em again. Any­how, I just had my first au­dio iChat talk since I got this wired up, with Paul Hoff­man, on the sub­ject of Atom and the IETF. It was as­tound­ing, re­mark­able, un­like any mere “telephone” ex­pe­ri­ence. Had I shut my eyes and you’d told me that Paul was sit­ting across the desk, I would have be­lieved you.
 
Radio · Doc Searls’ The Con­tin­u­ing Death of Ra­dio as Usu­al is def­i­nite­ly worth read­ing. I’ll buy most of what he says, but I still think there is plen­ty of beau­ti­ful mu­sic on the ra­dio. That plus some ad­vice on how best to en­joy it ...
 
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