Quality Hiding In Plain Site

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Derp.


 

Why the hatred of quality music and sound right now?  Is it really the machines taking over?


 

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Consumer audio suffers this weird delusion. It seems to be a digital blindness.

It started in the 80’s but was a small segment of the listening population. Simple nerds.

In the 90’s it was distracted by the creation of the internet. They built the infrastructure while the arts flourished (money helps), and the digital babies sprung up everywhere.

[note – I’m one of the early ones. By 1991 I was pretty convinced computers were going to run just about everything by Y2K so I learned them, made a career of them, and continue to this day to be a technology worker, user, and lover.]

Then the iPod hit. “Good enough” took over for a nice ride that I figured would have run it’s course by now. Of course they would get better at playing music!  (ok once). Of course digital would figure out how to sound better than a 2001 mp3 on a 2002 iPod (it has).


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Even Steve Frickin’ Jobs didn’t think people would stand for the quality of mp3’s.

 

 

I don’t know, did 9/11 knock everyone into everything is a matter of life and death, and if my iPod gets better sounding, well that is shallow thinking?


 

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Sound quality is not life and death, it’s about life only.


 

It’s been 15 years of this downward turn in quality. Even the best artists working now release things that are so loud, so pumped, so faked (in some cases) that no one really even trusts them anymore.

The gods of music are long gone and there are no new ones that aren’t vintage re-do’s. OK very few. I blame the digital machines and our willingness to accept their flaws in quality.


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I’m a 1980 TV. I should be good enough quality forever, right? Oh no, I’m not a stereo, haha!


 

Meanwhile, TV has been upgraded at least 4 times in the USA since the CD shipped.


 

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I sound way better than a phone you downgraded suckers!


Now Jay Z, pushing his Tidal service, is forced to talk sound quality. That’s the only thing Tidal has over competitors – BITRATE. They stream the same stuff, they just stream it at 5x the data rate. CD quality.


 


 

If he cracks the code and gets mainstream person to understand that 1400k > 256k EVEN IN AUDIO, and you guessed it, 5800k > 1400k too.  See how easy?

The Ultimate (Final) Digital Music Collection

I’ve got my DAP that plays everything wonderfully. It’s got expandable storage and prices are low enough that I think it’s time to abandon the iTunes catalog I’ve spent 15 years curating to the smallest size possible and build a full-quality digital music library to last me the rest of my life.

This will be moved from my various hard drives to MicroSD flash storage using 64gb and 128gb cards. I am going to start at ~ 1.3tb and grow from there, achieved with 10 128gb cards.

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The tech is all simple and affordable. I’m looking at $40 for a multi-slot card reader and storage book for the cards. The reader plus my laptop will give me 3 slots for easy file management.

The cards themselves are priced about $60 for 128gb right now, so I’ll eventually spend about $600 on media. For $650 and lots of feeding discs into the ripper I will have all of my digital music in a single booklet, forever available at the highest quality I own.

Here’s the challenge, I call it my #1 modern problem — how to index/organize the cards?  I have been thinking on this for weeks now, and have asked several people’s opinions, and here’s a chart laying out how I see my various options:

How to organize 10 terabytes of music?

How to organize terabytes of music?

 

As you see, I’ve already excluded 2 methods A & B, leaving 6 more suggested ways to file all this music away. Each has pros and cons and none are scoring ahead of the others based on listenability, findability, and variety.

I will post more on this as I work out this problem. What are you thoughts on the best way to organize over a 1TB of music?

Also, see previous post on this topic of new storage space and great Rip 2.0

Project Overview: 

Combine 1000+ CD collection with a 20gb-sized MP3 collection, ripping the CD’s as 16/44 FLAC, (replacing any lower resolutions), purchasing some new 24bit albums, and storing it with a single index across 10+ MicroSD cards. Managed either manually or with JRiver/Ponomusicworld client.

The PonoPlayer contains 64gb of fixed memory plus the MicroSD card slot. I plan on using the internal storage as my “favorites” library and then I can load an additional separate card for separate occasions. If I’m stuck without a card I will still have over 100 of my favorite albums on the internal storage.

 

Triangle Love

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More random reasons to love the PonoPlayer, the more I live with it:

  1. It has no EQ. Thank you. The mix is perfect, or at least final. You can buy different headphones/speakers, or run an external EQ if you insist, but the PonoPlayer stays pure and presents the files without any EQ or degradation. From artist to you, perfect.
  2. It will shuffle all songs or playlists, but won’t shuffle albums or songs within the album. So it doesn’t break continuity of an album, has lossless playback, and let’s you concentrate on something other than the screen as the album plays. I sometimes miss the iPod shuffle features but you can make it work if you like specific types of shuffles. Playlists can take care of most custom concepts, but PP likes to play traditional album/CD style by default.
  3. They’ve just about worked out all the minor kinks with the 2 firmware updates. Rotation is still frustrating because a triangle divides a square perfectly, leaving you right in spin zone all the time, so I lock it to landscape.
  4. The mac version of desktop client has also been updated 3+ times since 12/2014 and is becoming quite pleasant. It (“Ponomusicworld” is a rebranded version of JRiver Media Center) really kicks iTunes ass when it comes to library management and tag editing. It’s growing on me.
  5. A few more good reviews are out there, and the attacks against me in online forums have dwindled as people at least acknowledge basic signal chain -aka it sounds good. No matter politics or beliefs in audio science, it very simply sounds nice and it’s hard for people to hate on that.
  6. This thing doesn’t have a great battery. That sucks, but it is standard and easily replaceable so I’m sure someone will recommend an upgrade as these first generation batteries age. Thus even the bad battery is a net positive because you’ll be able to pop any number of 3rd party batteries into PP and get better performance than what I’m seeing for many years to come. Note that I have the kickstarter NY001 version, so they may have already moved to a better battery.

 

Walkman IV – The Return of Fidelity

[deep ominous movie trailer chord]

Walkman 1 (1980) – by Sony – stereo cassette – 2 headphone jacks – powered by 2 AA batteries for runtime of 20 hours.

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Finally private jams!

Walkman II (1984) – Discman by Sony – compact disc – 1 headphone jack – powered by 2 AA batteries for runtime of 30 hours.

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Finally digital private jams!

Walkman III (2001) – iPod by Apple – digital file player w/max resolution of 16/44 – 1 headphone jack – powered by rechargeable internal lithium polymer battery for runtime of 10 hrs per charge

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Finally bootlegged private jams with no skipping!

Walkman IV (2014) – Pono Player – digital file player w/max resolution of 24/192 – 2 headphone jacks with 4 output configs – powered by rechargeable battery for runtime of ? hrs per charge

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Finally master-quality in my ears like the artist intended!

You know I’ll have a review as soon as I get mine.


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The Truth About Naked Selfies

If you take a naked selfie on a working cell phone you don’t expect privacy and you aren’t interested in privacy. I call BS on the crying for these latest celebrity hacks. It’s 2014 and we all know that there is no privacy on the internet, especially for the famous.

If you take a naked selfie and don’t immediately delete it after viewing then you want people to see it. You posed naked in front of a camera, probably more than once. It is meant to be viewed.

If you claim you were taking that picture for one person only – perhaps a person you are fuxing – then you can just pose in person and there’s no need for photos. To take, save, and especially send the image is to admit you want it viewed.

The exception to this is long-distance relationships. Real ones like military, work, college putting the distance between you and a spouse, not “internet dating”. The difference is clear when it comes to the sharing amongst friends – most guys will show their buddies the naked chick selfies sent their way, unless it’s their wife. That’s not shared because it’s legitimate affection.

If you bend over and snap that picture of your junk you want people to see it. You think you control who sees it but you don’t anymore. Don’t take the pic if you don’t want it seen.

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4 Year Old iPhone

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Well the time has come, Apple has decided my phone is a little old to be included in the new fun. I have been happily using this single phone, a 32gb iPhone 4 in black glass, for many years now, running all sorts of ridiculous things and running most of my life through it.

This is my second completely amazing iPhone. In the early years I had a couple bad headphone jacks on the first gen model, but Apple replaced them no questions asked and I got a good one that I rode hard on the road that year. The plastic 3G’s were not the most reliable but my friend had one for years.

Overall the iPhone 4, 4S, 4, and 5C are all really well made devices. Getting pushed into the new model coming soon isn’t so bad when you know it’s gonna be such a great device.

 

A Lil Dap Available Now

Why Wait for Pono? The Fiio X5 is here now, and getting good reviews.

I say more HD players will equal more HD digital music, which is always good news for our psyche , and even ripped CD’s and old mp3’s manage to sound better on a dedicated audio player with proper components.

It will be interesting to see if Apple stops at adding 24-bit support to it’s existing iDevices, or if it will push a higher quality audio systems in 1 or more of it’s devices.


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Hi There I’m Walkman 2014

Neil Young’s preaching has been working — Sony recently announced their latest WalkMan, the 35th Anniversary model, and it’s pretty bad-ass. Save the Audio!

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That little slab of gadget-lust has got hi-fi audio specs (DAC, amp, wiring, shielding), excellent build quality, and it plays high resolution digital!

This is the proof that there is a market for true music playback systems again. If Sony’s 35th anniversary walkman plays HD audio it immediately differentiates it from the “low-fi” phone and iPod world we’ve been in for the last 10 years.

Some general information, in case you are interested in purchasing one:

  • available in Japan and Europe late 2014, street price expected around $700 US
  • plays up to 24 bit, 192k FLAC and other formats
  • 64gb on-board memory, not expandable
  • runs the full android OS with app installation allowed, including outside music stores
  • wifi and bluetooth expected for non-audio features. not clear if it can send audio over bluetooth

 

Compared to the Pono player, I think we will have some choices in this emerging market:

  • available in the US late 2014, street price expected to be $400 US
  • plays up to 24 bit, 192k FLAC and other formats
  • 64gb on-board memory + card slot for swapping 64gb cards (128gb cards coming soon)
  • runs a proprietary OS with audio only features. no apps or internet connectivity
  • no wifi or bluetooth. Neil says you can’t take away the wires if you can’t replace what originally went through them 😉

 

There’s two other DAP’s I found on the market in the US, one from a company called Fiio and one from an upscale stereo maker whse name is slipping my mind. But the Fiio one was around the $400 price point and looked to be an impressive device. The other one is high-end all the way, with the player over $1k and even the cables were $100+, so no thanks on that.

 

 

 

Righteous Audio – Finally!

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I love knowing I’m not alone in my rants. I have been complaining about digital audio compromises since the 80’s, and now, finally, a product is coming for people like me. It’s called “Pono” (Hawaiian for ‘righteous’) and its basically the iPod redone with no audio compromises. Just like the classic iPods, it will cost under $500 and play all your various media types, but everything played through it should SOUND TRULY BETTER.


 

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The difference is the sound. The whole difference. How could people discount the sound quality as non-critical? MP3’s are “good enough” for much use, like streaming, but if you want to hear music the way it was intended when created, you have to go beyond the CD standard and go higher with high-def audio files. Pono does this, and then uses hi-end electronics and amplification to round out the package.

The Pono player looks like perhaps the last portable digital music player I’ll ever need to buy. It has 64gb built-in, with 64gb cards to swap in and out more music library. A 64gb card can hold hundreds of hi-def tracks depending on how hi you def. The Pono has hi-end audio circuitry designed for audio only. It has 2 outputs for either headphones or powering a real system with low-noise line level (as opposed to running out your headphone jack like many of us do with our portables now).

Anyone complaining or shooting down this concept (and they are out there) must have some sort of problem with either Quality, or Their Ears.


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Why would people push back against a higher-quality version of something, a version that the original artists approve of? Ignorance or previous investment, I would think. All these jokers own HD TV’s too, too stupid to miss the obvious in front of their eyes. Higher quality digital sound than was possible in 1977? Yeah right!

Listen, don’t buy the Pono if you don’t want one, but I personally purchased my last mp3 file last year. The quality is horrible (and no liner notes!) to have to own that thing forever. I’ve been slowly buying or re-buying the classics in HD digital or vinyl.

If Pono succeeds in making the general public aware of what they’ve been missing for 30+ years – what every pro musician anywhere knows – that there was a lot of good stuff removed from music in the 1980’s, and that we can now bring that back along with the digital conveniences – well that’s something I fully support. I’m buying one of these little tablerone’s of musical goodness.


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Coupla random opinions on the matter:

24/48 tracks should not cost more to purchase than 16/44 – the so-called “lossless” CD standard. Sorry marketing titles, it’s already lost much. CD’s & 16/44 should be discounted because it’s 37 year old digital tech.

24/48 is as low as you can go for “HD” marketing label. 16/44 was a compromise in 1977 and of course it still is. 24/48 is what most producers work at these days, and is the audio-for-video standard.

24/96 is the comfortable place for a modern digital audio standard, at least in popular music. Studios rarely record, mix, or master the originals at higher than that, and at 24/96 there is enough data to really get close to the total experience. You’d have to have an great listening environment, amazing music, and really good ears to get into hearing the improvement at 24/192. Classical fans with money to spend, maybe. Or cymbal tests in isolation. Both will show an improvement going up to 192.

These numbers 24/48, 16/44 are used alot, but keep in mind that they include all your dynamic range (loud to quiet), all your panning and depth (soundstage), all of your overtones and timbre (still impossible to quantify), all of your reverberations (tons of math!) along with the raw frequency response. There’s a lot of data in audio, and the computer chips of 1977 could only do so much. Going to 24/96 gives all needed variables more storage room, and you can feel it in the music.


 

Totally Wired

Totally Wired

Social Weapons @ The Coffeeshop

First snow day of the year. Ugh. So after dropping off the youngins I’m at the coffeeshop with the great fireplace, feet on the hearth logging into some work, p-funk in my ears, all good morning style. Big deadline today, lots of checks on the list.

Regular coffeeshop dude sits next to me. Every cafe has regulars and it’s a mixed bag of humanity that hangs around those places. But whatever, he’s to my side so his visual issues can be ignored.

But even with fire to my right this dude was just hummin! I ignored it, thought it could be anything else, maybe even my own winter coat that I dug out of the closet.

Nope. Dude was done, sour old boot filled with poop, ya know? My nose started twitchin. I’m dj raz of wfnk, i love and live the funk and now what was this in my face, making my eyes water, messing up my concentration? This was a foreign funk I was not down with.

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I had the best spot in the place. Plus dude is a regular who just stares at people so it would be obvious what I was doing if I moved to the other end of the store. I decided it best to pack up and get some lunch, I’ll just have to work tonight.

Lesson learned – one way to get the best spot in a cafe is to poop your boots then sit next to the guy with the best spot. As I was walking out he was moving over into my space to warm his boots.

Mobile Crystal Ball

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OK, quick hit, how I see the next 2 years playing out in the critical mobile OS area:

Microsoft buys or otherwise takes over Research In Motion and quickly picks up corporate market share by building a direct bridge from Blackberry to Windows Phone 8. Consumer use of Win8 still lags overall by usual Microsoft standards but they turn around this backslide of the last few years with solidly designed products. First Surface tablet is deeply flawed but gets some things right, and gets their toe in the tablet space.

Apple holds their ground. iOS is up to version 7 and unless your politically against Apple, is the standard-bearer in both design, app development, and the ever important PROFIT per app and per phone. The AppleTV grows to be a new voice/arrow controlled interface into iOS and your personal apps, running on every big screen in your possession if you are an Apple person. Apple people will continue to buy any and all Apple products and being in someone’s presence, and especially residence, will make it clear if they are ‘Apple people’ or not, sort of like religious or being into a particular cause or lifestyle.


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Google continues to stumble with Android except in the area of total units shipped. Basically every free phone in existence runs some variation of Android, and there are thousands of variations by then. Google doesn’t care much because it profits off the chaos. Remember all those Android users and developers needing to google how to upgrade their phone or how to troubleshoot. Android is the new Windows95 – no one likes it but it’s everywhere. The real winner here is Linux, as the nerds continually take (back) over the Android world.

Don’t see any newbies making major moves. There’s always the game systems but game systems are game systems. If you run your life through a game system I don’t think you have lots of recurring income.

If we agree that market share in the US today is 40-30-15-5 Apple-Android-Blackberry-Windows, I can see a market in the US as 45-20-35 Apple-Android-Windows

The iPad of 1997

It was called a Newton, it had a kindle-like screen, handwriting recognition, great software, and was still smaller than a modern netbook. Check out this in-depth look at using the final model of the Apple Newton, circa 1997.

The guy is right – there’s things it can do that 2012’s iOS, Android, and Blackberry’s still can’t do.

Then again, sitting next to a loaded iPad 3, that Newton does seem about as powerful as a legal pad. Progress in fits and starts.

Upon Jobs second time running Apple, he killed the Newton product line and started work on the iTunes/iPod/Pad/Phone lines that drove the company to dominance.

Hopefully developers in and out of Apple are still working on transferring some of those great Newton features into iOS. I’d use the handwriting recognition, the text markup features, the data handling, even the play dial-tone feature on my iPad.


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My First Laptop

I’ve been more or less living on a laptop since about 2002. I had a desktop machine as my only rig from ’87-’96 (Atari, Apple, Tandy, Gateway, Dell, IBM, white boxes, you name it…) and around 1996 I was finally able to pick up my first laptop on that new thing called eBay: an Apple PowerBook Duo 230 with a built-in modem, fax, rollerball and an extra battery. I quickly picked up a duoport SCSI adapter and was on my way.

It came from a guy in California that said he used it on the beach and hoped it didn’t have any sand in it – it did. I never managed to buy the whole desktop portion to slide the closed duo into, but it was one hell of a laptop.

This was the first netbook by about 15 years, I think. It was smaller and lighter than anything else out there even when I bought it used. The rollerball was killer, the buttons worked great, plus it had a built in modem, ethernet, and retractable legs!


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You Only Post On Comment Sections Because You Want To Be Trendy

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Say you need to purchase a big ticket item, and this item is the primary tool you use to make a living. Which one do you select?

  • The product built from better materials, to a tighter specification, that will then last longer, or an inferior plastic-framed lookalike?
  • The product that, although stronger, is also lighter, quieter, and has less moving parts? Continue reading

Ezzy mobiles and bits

I think we are nearing the completely mobile times. Portability and availability combine with convenience and give us me in the park on a sunny Sunday afternoon still managing to hit the net with some postpost.

I don’t get paid for postpost so I’m not in those times just yet. But my screenshare is strong and about to get stronger, my apps get upgraded,
my G increments higher and my cloud grows larger. If I could afford an ipad right now my interface would grow and then yes, I’m working from anywhere in the world (that I can G on).

That is a mobile future, that is the office-less life we could lead, supporting local businesses and the community while maintaining our required productivity. Work from the park an it’s not UCB.