Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category
Andrew Benson over at the Cycling ’74 site put together a really solid post on connecting a camera to your Max patch:
He covers the hardware requirements (cost, Quicktime drivers for mac users, and manual controls) as well as the handling you may want in your patch. What frame rate do you want to deal with? What are a few ways you could extract useful information from the feed?
Quick post today: the Highway Hi-Fi was a record player for your car, built by Chrysler back in the 1950s. Apparently they had quality issues and weren’t on the market for more than a year or two (go figure!).
Similar to the the Pleasurize Music! project I mentioned a while, turnmeup.org is a website dedicated to increasing the dynamic range of new albums. Their goals are stated as: 1) Defining an objective measure of dynamic range on a record, 2) defining a level of dynamics that is considerably more dynamic than today’s agressively limited records, but not so quiet that it wouldn’t be an option for contemporary artists, and 3) establishing and putting into place a system to measure and certify records that would like to be considered for Turn Me Up! certification.
They’re letting people join the organization as supporters, submit albums to be certified, and become mastering houses capable or certifying records. This looks like an interesting project, and Vagrant Records (among others) is one of their corporate sponsors; I just hope this all leads somewhere!
Previously I wrote a little about the Blu-Spec CD – a red book CD burnt with a shorter wavelength blue laser. In theory, the digital signal on the Blu-Spec CD should be less prone to errors in playback.
The SMH-CD is a very similar idea: a red book compatible CD created through a new process to reduce errors on playback. In the case of the SMH-CD (Super High Material CD), the base material is a special polycarbonate plastic designed to increase the transparency on the data side of the disc. The increased transparency means less distortion on the signal read by the laser, and a more accurate playback.
I can’t find any SMH-CDs for sale, and there’s very little information about them on the internet. It looks like Prince’s catalog was reissued in Japan at some point in this format, and there’s substantial debate about the sound quality of the manufacturing process. If you know anything else about this format, toss it in the comments!
The May AES Journal just dropped, and there are a few articles that look intriguing. The first is a measure of objective speech intelligibility that will work with perceptual coding algorithms – definitely something needed since STI fails with perceptual coders. They recommend some amendments to the ITU standard to handle the perceptual encoders.
There’s an article discussing the optimum bandwidth for AM and FM broadcasting. For speech and classical music listeners preferred lower bandwidths of 5-7KHz – it seems that the lower bandwidth reduces noise from nearby channels. For listening to ‘highly compressed’ music, like rock, most listeners could not tell the difference between 7 KHz of bandwidth and 10 KHz of bandwidth… interesting. I’ve been observing the same thing recently: many people just don’t pay attention to the content above 8 KHz. It’s a shame – I think that’s my favorite part.
For loudspeaker designers there’s an article about the impact of heating in the voice coil of speakers, and the impact it has on sound level and damping. The result, as expected, is compression of the output, but the frequency response was also impacted by the damping changes.
The 127th AES Convention is going down October 9-12, 2009, back in Javits Convention Center in NY!
Peter Kirn at Create Digital Music did a post on the Pleasure Music Foundation back in March. The Foundation aims to put the pleasure back in music – pleasurize music! – by advocating for greater dynamic range in music. From their Aim:
Our aim is to improve the sound quality of music in its various recorded formats – including data compression methods such as MP3 – as well as music destined for radio broadcast.
Only music that provides a positive musical listening experience has real market value. The Foundation’s aim is to increase the value of music within the creative production process for the entire music industry.
The objective is to revive the willingness to pay for music and therefore to create a healthier basis for all creative participants within the music industry.
They’ve produced a Dynamic Range Meter that gives every recording a score, a function of the peak amplitude and rms level (though this is really the crest factor of the music, not the dynamic range). The meter is available for all platforms.
At the end of last year Sony announced a new audio disc, the Blu-Spec CD. This is an interesting idea – they’re using a blue laser (the same process as Blu-Ray Disc) to burn a standard Red Book Audio CD.
To be clear, this is not a high-res audio disc. It’s a standard Red Book CD, playable by all CD players. The difference is in the creation process.
The advantage is that the shorter wavelength of the blue laser allows for more precision in the pitting of the disc. This should result in fewer errors on playback when read by a standard CD player with a red laser. This raises an interesting question about the audibility of errors in CD playback – what do they sound like, and how well does error-correction work?