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Messages - mgriffin

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I should add, when I want to play back FLAC files, I usually use Vox. Sometimes VLC, if I'm just listening to short bits.

Everything and Nothing / Re: Ambient Music + Copyright
« on: January 05, 2014, 10:05:24 AM »
To me, it's one thing to sample from a completely different genre or style, and repurpose what you've sampled for a completely different kind of work. I mean, if I take a voice sample from Blade Runner and put it in a trance song, it's not so much about ripping off. It's just sampling... quoting, sort of. This seems like less of a problem to me.

If you're an ambient musician creating drone work, and you take a large section of another ambient artist's drone and make it the basis for your own track, that's entirely different. To me that's just laziness, a terrible, lame shortcut... and much more like stealing or at least dishonesty, even if you credit it. You're using the person's work for something very much like the original work, barely changing it, certainly not repurposing it or creating something very new/different from it.

And yes, loop libraries or commercial sample packs are totally different. Those are sold with the express purpose of being used in other people's work.

The headphone topic has been a popular one, and many times while reading it I've wanted to create a related topic to discuss headphone amplifiers.

I think in many cases, the audiophile community tells prospective enthusiasts that they have to spend huge amounts of money, or don't even bother. This probably leads many people to distrust the advice they receive. Well, in the case of headphone amplifiers, I hope people won't ignore the advice that headphone listening can be significantly enhanced with the use of a dedicated headphone amplifier, as well as the use of a decent DAC (digital audio converter) if you're listening to music output from a computer.

We can get into the discussion of some higher-end headphone amps, but for now I want to discuss the "entry level" headphone amplifiers, the kind that might be purchased by someone who is not completely convinced they will change the way a given set of headphones sound.

Lately, there are some good, high-output headphone amps for not too much money. My latest is the Aune T1, which is a USB DAC as well as an amp, and is really amazing quality for under $200.

Schiit (see ) makes some cheaper models which won't quite stack up to their Lyr or Mjolnir, but at least output sufficient power that even a high impedance headphone will perform pretty well. The new Magni model us just $99!

Also if you have any DIY abilities, you can build one of your own. I have a kit for an O2 (Objective2) headphone amp which has been sitting on my shelf... haven't found the time to build it yet. You can buy them pre-built for not much more than the price of the kit (see ) and the sound quality is supposed to be especially good for the money.

Kit version:


I'm certain some people will look down on the suggestion that headphone amps under $200 could be adequate, but my purpose is not to suggest these are all the amplifier a headphone listener would ever want. This is just to show a few ways it's possible to try outboard headphone amplification for $100-$200, and gain a noticeable improvement in sound quality. I think people are much more likely to try something if they can do it cheaply, with less risk. Personally, I think it's unlikely a serious headphone listener would try one of these amps and fail to agree the difference was a great improvement over using the headphone output of their computer or iPod or stereo receiver. Once the listener is convinced, maybe they will want to step up to a mid-level or high-level amplifier. There are certainly many of those to choose from.

In my own listening experience, you can get excellent sound quality from an amp in the $500-600 range, and unless you're using very exotic headphones indeed, you might not need (or notice improvement from) a headphone amp more expensive than that. I have yet to hear a headphone amp over $1000 that convinced me it was better, though there are plenty of high-end amps I've never heard. I do understand that many people listening to planar or electrostatic headphones especially emphasize the importance of the amplifier, even more than with normal high-impedence headphones.

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Cans.....Whats on your head?
« on: January 05, 2014, 09:45:43 AM »
The same thing is true of many good headphones in the $200 - $500 range. They tend to be higher impedance, so they need an amplifier to really perform. Maybe it doesn't seem so bad to pay extra for an amp for a really expensive headphone, but as you say, if you buy a $150 headphone, you might end up paying more than that for an amp.

The way I look at it, though, is the amp and the headphone are separate purchases. If someone is just getting into better-quality headphones, maybe something like this DT990 Pro 250 ohm is their "gateway" to higher-end headphones. Maybe they have to buy an outboard amp for $150 to $500 more, but then they can continue to use that amp if they move up to even better headphones later.

I didn't really appreciate my Sennheiser HD580s until I plugged them into studio gear that had strong output at the headphone preamp. They improved even more with a dedicated, standalone amplifier. 

Lately, there are some good, high-output headphone amps for not too much money. I've been meaning to create a new topic about headphone amps, and I guess this is a good time to do so. I'm off to do that now!

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Cans.....Whats on your head?
« on: January 05, 2014, 12:12:30 AM »
The Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro, 250 ohm version, is on sale right now at Amazon for $148, an excellent price for such a highly-regarded headphone.

Of course you'll probably want to use a headphone amp to get the best sound out of these, but if you're open to that (and not just plugging this directly into your iPod or something) this is quite a deal... which reminds me, I've been meaning to start a topic to discuss headphone amps.

What this points out is that, regardless of the platform, there don't seem to be that many good choices out there.

In any media segment where there are several good, free options, there won't be much drive for competitors to develop something new, since they know they probably won't be able to charge (at least not much) for it.

It's like what has happened with web browsers, anti-malware tools and fonts. People are now accustomed to getting these things for free, so most potential new developers don't want to bother... they just work on something else.

Well I tried to explain to you that your prognosis for the future is not "facts" either.

Yes, and in my prognosis for the future, I used the word "likely."  I did not state it like it was a fact.

This is degenerating into "platform wars" and probably boring for 90% of people reading this topic -- not to mention,  off-topic.

The last thing I will say about your previous few messages is that you frequently make statements as if they are facts, when they're actually opinions ore preferences, or worse, incorrect facts.

So, let's talk about media players.

I should add we are not considering switching desk-bound office workers like myself to iPads for our work, just mobile workers.

If you're doing data entry and spreadsheets all day, a mouse and keyboard is still the best control device, and most of us in this office have two large 1080p monitors mounted on a stand for an extended work place.

At my workplace, everyone has a Windows computer on their desk, and the Outside Salesmen have always had Windows laptops.

As of yesterday, our Inside Sales Manager has been promoted so that he will be going outside, visiting customers more often, so he will get a portable computer for email, entering call reports, web browsing, and accessing our ERP system. He decided he would rather have a 4G iPad with a bluetooth keyboard, instead of a laptop. I completed a full review of the costs, and plusses and minuses as far as capability and convenience, for our company's owner. We came to the conclusion that of the activities he needed to do while traveling, most of them could be done at least as well using an iPad and keyboard. The one thing that will probably be a little less efficient is the creation of pricing spreadsheets, but even that will be do-able with the touch interface and keyboard.

The other outside salesmen, all of whom already have their Windows 8 Pro laptops, have already heard about this. Many have expressed that when they are eligible for an upgrade, they might want to get a 4G iPad instead of a new laptop. The Outside Sales Manager has an old laptop and needs a new one, and he's already eagerly asking for an iPad instead of an upgraded laptop.

The reason this is interesting to me is not because I'm an "Apple fanboy" and prefer to see my corporation spend money on Apple products. For 20 years, my job has been to test and recommend technology options, and to train people on the new devices they will use to do their job. The reason this change is interesting to me is that for the first time since the release of Droid and iPhone "smart phones," when everyone at the company who was eligible for one was eager and excited to be one of the first people to get an upgrade, now everyone who might be eligible for a company-paid computer is eager and excited to get an iPad instead of a laptop. They're acting like it's something COOL and FUN that they're excited to get, even if their laptop is already allowing them to get their work done.

As an IT Manager, it doesn't really make my job that much better or worse if an Outside Salesman uses a Windows laptop, or a Droid tablet, or an iPad. I do think it's interesting, though, when a professional salesmen is excited like a kid with a toy at the prospect of getting a new piece of technology with which to accomplish his work.

As a mac user like you are I can understand that you think apple is growing,  I am a windows users I see myself that more people is using windows,
Apple is losing users to android every day, their market share is going to android every day...

I didn't say Apple was the main reason Windows market share was shrinking. Please re-read my post. I said Windows was losing market share to Mac, Linux and especially tablets and smart phones.

You're simply wrong that more people are using Windows. It's not even close.

You can't make assertions about market share based on your own preferences, or a few people you know. Market share isn't about which you think other people should use. It's about the actual number of real people in the world using different devices.

At the current rate of change, within the next 10 years, Windows is likely to be used by only a tiny minority of technology users. I'm very curious to see what will happen, because my day job is as a corporate IT Manager.

Ubuntu Studio is a version of Ubuntu especially for audio production.

I've experimented with Linux at length, because I too like the philosophy of openness. Unfortunately, the result of this openness is that it's extremely hard to get anything done, and most of the really useful software is not available. I've given up trying to make it work for me. It's fun to experiment with. It has some of the benefits of Unix, with a few similarities to other GUI-based systems like Windows and Mac, but in my opinion it's not really a suitable operating system for anybody except programmers and people who work primarily in the command line.

You're right that Windows is still the biggest platform, but the situation is changing. Not only is Windows losing market share to Mac OS and Linux, but more significantly, many people who used to use a standard Windows PC now use a tablet or even a smart phone instead. I know many people who now use their table for most "computing" tasks, and only use their desktop computer rarely, for things like printing out big documents, or filing tax returns. For other things, they use portable touch-interface devices. The world of personal computing is changing.

You don't have to like Apple or use their products -- as we said we each get to use what we like -- but to dismiss their influence in the world of computing is silly. They are not only the largest computing company in the world, not only the biggest technology company in the world, but the biggest company of any kind, and still growing.

No, ASIO is just a Windows thing to overcome problems in the built-in Windows audio handling components. ASIO fixes a problem in Windows that doesn't exist in Mac OSX.

It's OK if you hate Mac OS and don't want to use it. Some Mac users treat it like a religion, and want to convince Windows and Linux people that they're WRONG WRONG WRONG. I'm not like that. I think people should use the tools that work for them, and help them accomplish the work (or play) that they want to accomplish.

Ten years ago, 97% of people used Windows for everything. Many people hated it, but felt stuck. Now there are many options. You can use Windows, Linux, Mac OS, Droid, iOS. This is much better -- nobody's stuck any more.

No problem - I know many Windows users assume the same thing "ASIO means better sound" is true on Mac too. This is one of the things I like about the Mac, though I realize you can still get very good results and do professional work on a Windows computer, with some extra setup or configuration.

This is why it's just simpler for me to use iTunes for everything. It's so easy to stick a CD in the drive and rip it to my preferred format, and maybe drag files to a new playlist. Even though I have a huge library, it's surprising how often I find items I want to listen to, which I have on CD but not in my iTunes library. Just yesterday I ripped several Kraftwerk CDs and Wolfgang Press's Bird Wood Cage.

Even on Mac I think the difference in audio quality with asio is still quite big though.. the soun quality on windows 8 is really good, but asio is more professional audio protocol I would recommend to use it at all times when possible.

Personally I would not imagine to listen to music in non asio drivers especially not if oyu use an expensive interface/converter that does not make sense at all. the Asio drivers will open up the full potential.

ASIO is a third-party work-around to bypass the poor-quality (particularly with regard to latency, but also sound quality) audio processing components available in Windows by default. It seems everyone agrees ASIO is necessary to get the best audio performance and quality out of your Windows computer.

Mac OSX uses Core Audio, which is built into the OSX operating system. Professional audio engineers around the world are satisfied with the quality and performance of Core Audio. Any recording, mixing or mastering studio that uses Mac computers is using Core Audio components.

The idea that ASIO is better on Windows default audio setup, therefore ASIO must be better than Mac OS default audio setup, is simply not true. At best, ASIO allows a Windows computer to function at a level equivalent to what Mac OSX Core Audio can do by default. To get the best audio performance out of a Mac, it's not necessary (or recommended) to change Core Audio.

I guess that's one benefit I find with the Mac, which is that you don't need to worry about things like DirectX drivers (if that's even a real thing any more), ASIO, and so on. The only problem I ever run into is manufacturers failing to update their drivers to compatibility with the latest OSX, for example I've had instances of hard crashing with the old drivers for my Presonus Firestudio on my new iMac. When I disconnect the device and uninstall the drivers, no more freeze-ups. It's apparently a widespread issue with drivers for all Presonus firewire interfaces on OSX 10.9 or Mavericks.

It isn't too inconvenient for me at the moment because my old Mac Pro is sitting at the next desk over, so I just connect the Firestudio to that, and use a different USB audio interface for getting audio out of the iMac.

I think the sound quality of iTunes for playback is very good, but I'm using it to play back 320k MP3 files, so I'm not being as fussy as some people about absolute perfection here.

I understand some people who don't like to have their music in a library format, but it's the only way to have playlists, and I find playlists very convenient. I have iTunes managing a very large library, and it's not slow at all. Of course, the library is so large that it's not extremely convenient to scroll through the complete track listing. I mostly select playlists, or search for artists or albums.

Foobar is kind of a nifty stand-alone player, but I use iTunes because I have a huge library with many playlists, and it's very convenient to be able to play it from any computer (Mac or PC or iPad or iPod or iPhone) in the house.

People complain about iTunes messing up their library, but if you keep your library consolidated and don't do anything bizarre with metadata, it works perfectly well. I leave iTunes running on my studio Mac Pro 24/7, and play tracks & playlists from it from all over the place.

Hi Jim - I agree with Seren. Don't start from a "workflow" - just start making sounds, and tweaking and adjusting, until you come up with something you like. I'm usually not able to articulate my workflow until after I'm finished.

Everything and Nothing / Re: Help me find good cider
« on: January 01, 2014, 04:17:25 PM »
I've seen Crispin in a lot of the stores. "Dark" is something I can be flexible about, but I have no interest in sweet, juicy ciders, so "dry" is a must. I'll add this Crispin Brut to my list. Thanks, Bill.

One of my Facebook friends pointed out that in SE Portland, there's a store called Bushwhacker that sells nothing but fancy ciders! Good old Portland...

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