Archive for the ‘Audio’ Category

SMB2 Chatter..

I was walking around with the H4 during Social Media Breakfast 2 a few weeks ago…

Here is the chatter that was recorded…

I only got the 1st bit of the recording, the 2nd bit was corrupted.. :(

A solution for TVMobile

“Find me one sbs-transit regular who acually likes TVMobile and I will pay for your dinner”

– A close friend…

While I have not gotten my free dinner yet, I agree that TVMobile is freaking annoying.. While I am not the easiest to satisfy, with respect to entertainment, among all the people, I can’t see how anyone can enjoy watching lame TV shows, on minisucle screen, 10 feet away, with audio which breaks left and right, all of that while looking at such an angle that is sure to give you neck-aches..

But, all that I am willing to give up for a bit of peace on the bus. All I want after a long day at work, is to sit back and listen to a few tracks of the music I like, but I am forced to listen to boring TV Shows, or god forbid, overplayed episodes of “Just for Gags”..

For all those who recommend increasing the volume of my music, I do care about my ears..

Anyway, ranting aside.. I decided to come up with a win-win solution for TV Mobile, and I really hope someone from SBSTransit or relevant authority takes a look at this.. Here goes. (Please bear with me with all the assumptions I make to be fair to all parties involved.)

Problem : TV Mobile is too loud. In the already noise polluted landscape of Singapore, TV Mobile just helps to increase the noise levels in the buses. So much so that I can’t speak to the person on the next seat sometimes.

However, the investment SBSTransit in TV Mobile should also be protected. And so removing or just muting TV Mobile is not an option..

Solution : Mute TV Mobile on all buses. But keep the audio on radio, as it is already being done. And start giving out (for free) portable FM radios to SBSTransit customers. I remember getting really simple portable FM radios with only a few preset stations, a coin cell, for like a dollar. These can be given out with a pair of el cheapo earphone. Total cost, with mass production can drop really low. We are talking a wee bit more than a dollar here..

This way, people who want to listen to TV Mobile will be able to listen to it, and the others can do whatever they want, and not get annoyed.. Furthermore, there won’t be complains that TV Mobile is exclusive to only people who can afford radios.

Finally, if the portable FM radios are made such that the can only tune into one station (TV Mobile), they can also get sponsorship from the advertisers since for sure people will listen to TV Mobile.

Any more suggestions to make this case?

The Raghu Dixit Project.

Update : Here are some photos from the gig.. Thanks to Shyam Mani..


Esplanade always has a flurry of concerts all throughout the year, and suprisingly many of them are free. Now which part of the deal is not to like? Free.. Great Music.. Amazing Place..I tend to attend many of the free concerts at Esplanade, and last Sunday on the 17th I attended a concert by The Raghu Dixit Project. It was a part of Kalaa Ustsavam, but the desciption of the group got me interested.

“The Raghu Dixit Project, a six-member band from India, plays a seamless amalgamation of Indian ethnic music, Indian classical music, Sufi music, and other sounds from around the world.”

Fusion… hehehehe..

So I went there armed with my H4 again.. and here is what I heard..

[odeo=http://odeo.com/audio/17383353/view]

[odeo=http://odeo.com/audio/17393353view]

[odeo=http://odeo.com/audio/17393383/view]
I loved the sound of the band. Very unique combination of folk, traditional Indian sounds with drums, base, and great vocals.. The violin-guitar duet (Jithin’s First Flight) was the most amazing track of the lot, with great solo pieces by both artists.

The H4 peaked most of the time, and I should have really reduced the sensitivity, but I forgot. Hence the 2nd track distorts all over and I had to cut it.. Ooops..

But it was a great evening.. Esplanade… Lovely sounds.. and a great recording.. :)

A week with the Creative Aurvana X-Fis

I am really late in posting this post, but I have been so busy lately.. that I really don’t have much time or enthusism to post much. It’s kinda like what Uzyn wrote.. With work pilling up and twitter the incentive to blog is really very little.

Anyway.. so I received a review unit of the Creative Aurava X-Fi for Tech65 from Creative a few weeks ago.. I had it for a whole week and I did use it quite a bit during that week. So here is my review about it..

The Creative Aurvana X-Fi is Creative’s attempt to combine their noise canceling headphone, with the X-Fi. So the 3 main features of the headphones consists of the Noise Cancelling; X-Fi Crystalizer; CMSS-3D.

Design.

The heaphones are well deisgned. They look nice.. A little geeky with the blue leds.. but I liked it. The buttons on the side simple and easy to remember.. So one doesn’t have to remove the headphone to switch on/off a certain feature.

I also loved the fitting, it fit snugly over my head and around my ear.. It did not feel too uncomfortable.. My friends did complain that it was tad too small for him.. but well.. we can’t always cater for the big-headed people..

My favorite design feature has to be the use of a standard stereo jack where the cable connects to the headphone. This makes it easier to replace the cable, if one gets damaged, or ..in the really horrible event… cut. It also allows one to use a cable of ones choice length, type, quality… I like this customizability option..

Sound:

Since the headphones themselves are not as spectacular as the features, I will talk about the sound with respect to each feature.

Noise Canceling

The closed cans, which fit really snugly, already provide a bit of ambient noise canceling. But, the real magic happens when you switch on the active noise canceling. It does take a few milliseconds to initialize, and during that time you won’t hear anything.. But once it start, it’s like getting dropped into a sound proof room.. OK. I am exaggerating, but its is some of the nicest noise canceling I have heard. And it’s really fun to realize that active noise canceling makes you not hear your own voice…

The canceling is well done. It does cut out the din and sound of TV Mobile in the bus, or the noise from the MRT traveling in the tunnel. But the voice of the super loud announcements in the MRT, or the uncle shouting into his cellphone, are heard, with just a little attenuation. This is good or bad, depending on how many years you have had in Singapore.. :)

My only issue with the noise canceling… two actually.. are the feeling of heavy pressure on my ear drums and the coloring of sound during noise canceling. When you turn on noise canceling, the way active noise canceling works, a lot more energy is put into your ear.. This is felt as pressure built on your ear drum.. and trust me.. its un-nerving.. especially after using it for long times.

Also, I noticed that whenever noise canceling turned on, the bass gets boosted!! What?? Why? Can’t you leave the bass? I’ll pump it if I need to in my player.. I don’t need the headphones to do that…

X-Fi Crystalizer

Next to the noise canceling, the X-Fi crystalizer was the something I tried the most. The crystalizer is one of X-Fi’s technologies that is integrated into this headphone. It is supposed to “up-sample” music and make it sounds like a 24bit 192kHz Track.

Now, that I will call bull.. While I can’t believe they are recovering the “lost” information, whatever they are doing sounds lovely. After listening to some tracks I realized, that it felt like adding a little high end, a bit of compression and a touch of echo.. and it works.. Most of the tacks on my Zen are mp3s, and the sounded more ‘live’ through the crystalizer.. The sound was indeed brighter..

CMSS-3D

This was the feature I tried the least. It is aimed at gamers and people watching movies. And the idea is to recover 3D information from stereo tracks, and make a stereo track sounds like surround sound. What’s with creative and recovering lost information… They should really start a backup and recovery service… But I digress..

At the demo, I was told, that when I turned this on, I’d feel that instead of listening from under the singers arms, I’d feel that I am listening to a live concert as an audience. Point being, that it ads a lot of stage, and possibly color mimicking the music being played live.

This is also supposed to help in gaming as it allow the player to feel the sound coming from various other direction, and not just left or right. Similarly for movies.. But being separated from these two form of entertainment for a great deal of time (~2-3 months) I did not bother trying it out… but I did try it with music.. and I absolutely hated it. And trust me, I turned it on a few times, just for the review.. as there is no way I would have had the courage to listen it again and again.. It basically killed the stereo in the tracks completely.. I agree it doesn’t work with most of the tracks which I listen to where there is heavy panning and lots of electronic sound.. but still, I did not find even 1 track in my library that sound anything close to listenable in that 3D CMSS mode.. And stop snickering about my choice of music..

Conslusion.

So overall, I’d say its a great piece of technology. As my friend pointed out.. if you are something like an audiophile, or if you care about fidelity and accurate representation of sound.. don’t even bother. But otherwise a lovely pair.. especially to use while traveling or at work.. Ah.. at last.. a peaceful office.. :)

Womad.. an Audio tour..

Before I can do a good review of WOMAD.. let me just post up some audio clips..

I went there on Sunday armed with the H4 and lots of battery and SD cards..

Here are some of the sounds of WOMAD… Not at all comprehensive, but an appetizer..

David D’Or

[odeo=http://odeo.com/audio/16493023/view]

Clube do Balanço

[odeo=http://odeo.com/audio/16493233/view]

The Eccentric by Shooglenifty

[odeo=http://odeo.com/audio/16493213/view]

Shooglenifty

[odeo=http://odeo.com/audio/16493223/view]

Muntu Valdo

[odeo=http://odeo.com/audio/16493203/view]

Might take a little bit to load.. Have some patience..

Unboxing the Zoom H4!!

Behold my newest Toy!!!!

This is the Zoom H4. It’s a portable stereo audio recorder.

I had ordered it for almost a month, and it arrived last week. Took me 3 days before I could un-box it. So here is goes.

Zoom H4 Handy Recorder.

Records 24-bit/96 kHz digital audio as well as MP3 format with bitrates up to 320kbps
Two studio quality X/Y pattern condenser microphones for true stereo recording
Two combination XLR-1/4-inch input jacks with phantom power
Onboard studio effects compression, limiting and mic modeling
USB mass-storage interface and SD card storage
Four hours of continuous recording operation from 2 AA batteries
4-track audio in CD quality 16-bit PCM, 44.1 kHz sampling
Built in guitar amp modeling
Records directly to your computer as a USB audio interface
Bundled with Cubase LE, 48-Track Digital Audio Workstation software

Here are the unboxing photos!!

Podcast Dreams..

Knowing how much I blabber, it will not be a surprise to many that I am dabbling into podcasting.

I always wanted to do one, since I got hooked to podcasts last year. But, as usual, I lacked time and a group of enthusiasts to do it. (hint hint..).

Thanks to a chance Google search and my new “Do it now” initiative, I am a semi-regular host at 65bits. It’s a podcast by tech65, about technology with a Singaporean perspective.

So… if you wanna hear my stunning sexilicious (as per rinaz and sweska.. see comments below) voice .. Ermm.. OK ner mind… forget I said that..

Whatever it is, do give it a listen and subscribe to 65bits feed or on itunes.

Here is our recent episode which is NOT about iPhone..

I kid.. I kid..

(Hint: Press the gray triangle to play… Shh.. dun tell anyone else..)

NTT’s Bored Weekend #1

The weekend’s just started and I am already bored. I have tons of work to do… “work work” as well as “play work” but I am gonna be lazy…

Soldering and Toys!!!

I went to help a friend solder his guitar amp jack all the way to clementi in the morning.. I had to make a trip down to SLT to stock up on supplies. Got some “Stannol lötfett”. It’s the best flux (solder paste) I have used. Others are mostly crappy and smell really bad..

After fixing my friend guitar, he showed me the lastest set of ‘toys’ he bought for his lab!!

He had a really cool guitar interface which had digital effects for many amps and speakers. And it sounded awesome on his moniters!! I totally forgot the name…

Then he showed his Hercules DJ Console. That’s really cool stuff. OK. It’s not anywhere near as cool as the stuff professional DJs use, but you can spin some good stuff off it at home.. or in my friend’s lab!

Then he took out an AKG C1000S. Just the case looks soo cool!. I wonder what kind of amps he has for that.

Finally he showed me his new M-Audio Axiom 25. Reminded my of the Kaoss Pad and M-Audio that EML used during their concert..

Oh and he mentioned the motorized 8 channel Digi-Design mixer that has in the lab!!!

I was almost drooling.. I really should have taken up the job when I was offered it.. Sigh…

NTUC and Linux.

How do you know the Linux has reached the masses? When you can see it in NTUC!

Saw of the the “product promo” screens in NTUC booting into Linux! It was soo cool. I must have looked like an idiot staring at the booting screen.  I should have had a camera. :(

I have seen this at the Pacific Coffee Company as well. I guess it makes sense to use some kind of embedded Linux for such devices. But I really wonder why they set the display to be active during boot up. In my opinion, it looks unprofessional.

Singapore Tech Podcasts.

Recently, I found this tech podcast done by a couple of Singaporean guys. It’s called 65bits. Do check it out.

It has small episodes (10-20mins) and 2 guys chatting about technology wrt. Singapore. I have been catching up on the last few episodes, and I am liking it..

Now to start brain storming for ideas…

Nintendo Wii in Singapore

Wii are here!! This is very very surprising. I did not hear or see ANY advertisements, but the Nintendo Wii has been “Soft launched” in Singapore. The “Official Launch” is in October so they say.

G3 at Suntec is selling it at $800 bundled with an extra wiimote+nunchuk and 3 games (wii sports + ultimate alliance + your choice). S$800 is expensive. Cannot lah! The Wii is supposed to be cheap, and a fun console. Sigh.. I will wait…

Suntec for Lunch…  

What’s good at Suntec for lunch?? We could not find anything. Either too expensive or too crappy.. :(

Back to where I belong.

Density, Sound Character, Genetic Algorithms, Ambient sounds, VST plugins, processed sounds, pd, Synthesis, cues, loops, Ableton Live, MAX/MSP ,Gene pools, Transcription, pitch control, frequency spectrum, stereophonic projection, samples, heuristics, morphing, mapping, interactivity, duets, Mating pool, sequencers, noise, collection, random processes, melody, flangers, compression, mutation, Texture, fabric, Tall Cappucinos….

Today, I went back to where I belong. It has been many days. I feel myself again…

Creative!! Not again!

I am going to sound like a Creative hater, but this HAS to be said. While enough has been said about the software issues in Creative software, I want to rant about the hardware, the Creative Zen Vision:M

The Zen Vision:M supports video output through it dock. The nice thing is that it’s over a standard A/V stereo-to-composite cable. But, Creative has made it proprietary by switching a few of the contacts in the cable. Anythingbutipod has a nice guide about this.

So if you want to use the video out, you are now forced to purchase a $35 video cable from Creative, instead for a $12 standard A/V Cable.

This is very bad marketting strategy. While I do agree that it does make the customer spend more money on Creative, its just sad that a company like Creative is sponging money off its customers using such tactics. For goodness sake, you are Creative, not some crappy mp4 player manufacturer from China.

And Creative already rips off people for the “custom” interface for the dock, which does not have any active or passive components. So its just how the connections are routed. And it costs $35 too.

I will surely think twice before getting another Creative product.