Posted tagged ‘technology’

Fidelity and Philosophy

July 2, 2018

This is Part Four (and the conclusion, finally) of a post on the journey of my music listening from high-fidelity to mobile phone earbuds and back again.  You should probably go back and read Part 1 , Part 2, and Part 3. Or not.  If you’ve stuck with me through four parts, thank you.  I hope you learned something … I certainly did (which, of course, is one of the reasons I write).

AGPTEKAs of Father’s Day, I was the proud owner of an AGPTEK H3 HIFI High Resolution Lossless Digital Audio Player and a pair of 1MORE Triple Driver In Ear Headphones.   Anxious to try them out, I installed a 128 gB mini-sd card and loaded my music collection, mostly stock MP3 files.  As I mentioned in Part 3, high-resolution  audio should be regarded as a marketing term.  Case in point: my player can’t play in high-resolution unless the music files are … and MP3 files are not.  Still, the difference from my phone and basic earbuds was striking.  Acoustic guitars were crisper and clearer, drum beats were sharper and orchestral passages didn’t sound as muddy.    Since the source was my MP3 files, the improvement in the sound he heard is due to high-quality electronics in the music player and the quality earbuds, not so-called high resolution or even better file formats.  But it does speak to the improvement in fidelity that better equipment can provide. (more…)

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Fidelity and Resolution

June 30, 2018

This is Part Three of a post on the journey of my music listening from high-fidelity to mobile phone earbuds and back again.  You should probably go back and read Part 1 and Part 2.  Or not.

earbudsAt the end of Part 2, I was listening to music stored in the MP3 format on my smartphone, happy as the proverbial pig to have my music portable where I could listen as loud as I wanted.   But I kept seeing articles about high resolution audio online.   Neil Young, of all people, made a passionate plea to save music through his high resolution  player and streaming service, Pono (since abandoned).   Other articles sing the praises of so-called lossless compression formats like FLAC and ALAC.  On Amazon, I found pocket devices claiming to be high resolution music players ranging in cost from $25 to almost $4000.  Even given the tendency of audiophiles to equate high cost with high fidelity, that seemed suspicious.   Suspiciously, too, I can find articles claiming high-resolution audio is anything from audio Nirvana to practically a scam.  So just what is high resolution audio?
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Fidelity (Part 2)

June 24, 2018

This is Part Two of a post on the journey of my music listening from high-fidelity to mobile phone earbuds and back again.  You should probably go back and read Part 1.  Or not.

CDThe early 1980s brought a revolution in the form of the Compact Disc, popularly known as the CD.   According to Wikipedia, a CD is a digital optical disc data storage format that was co-developed by Philips and Sony and released in 1982. The format was originally developed to store and play only sound recordings but was later adapted for storage of data.  Suffice it to say that digital meant the music was stored at exactly the value recorded in the studio and that optical meant the music was read with light … no needle to scratch the surface or gradually degrade the fidelity.   CDs were smaller than vinyl records and durable, too, making them suitable for cars and portableindex players.   When recordable versions appeared, CDs quickly supplanted cassettes and gradually displaced vinyl, too, a music companies delivered more music on CDs only.   CD players appeared in cars and in portable units.  Not everyone was happy … some audiophiles lamented that music from records sounded warmer or more realistic.  But the tide had turned digital even though some hardcore audiophiles insist vinyl sounds better.  Older Eyes added a five disc CD changer to his music system. and his CD collection grew.
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Fidelity (Part 1)

June 22, 2018

This (probably) three part post requires an introductory explanation. For Father’s Day, my wife Muri bought me a High Resolution Music Player and a pair of audiophile quality earbuds. The quality of the sound is astonishing, reminding me of the way music used to sound before music moved from large music systems to phones and earbuds. This is a (probably geeky) retelling of that process in my music-listening life, with perhaps some old-guy philosophizing at the end.

IMG_7786When I started listening to music, there were two popular forms of recording … 45 rpm discs, popularly known as 45s … and Long Playing or 33 1/3 rpm discs. High quality recordings and players capable of reproducing the sound at a level of quality commensurate with the recordings were termed high-fidelity, or hi-fis for short. Of course, exactly what constituted hi-fi depended upon who you talked to. The Magnavox TV and Music Console in my parents living room was (according to the brochure that came with it) hi-fi but the group of sound equipment aficionados known as audiophiles would find that hysterical. Butw-5m our stereo was good enough for me to develop what would be a life long love of music. In high school, I built a 25 watt Heathkit amplifier which I combined with a set of cheap speakers and a turntable, my first component hi-fi. Audiophiles were still laughing. When i got married in 1968, I bought my first serious system, a Yamaha receiver and turntable and a pair of Heath speakers. (more…)

Oldereyes and the Dark Screen

March 19, 2018

tab aI was slow to join the ranks of people using tablets like the ubiquitous iPad and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab.   I have a laptop, I said.   I have a Kindle.  I can do everything else on my phone.  Why would I need a tablet?   But as I became more connected to digital media like Facebook and online news, via my phone, I got the answer.  Size does matter.  I bought a 7 inch Nexus tablet and it became a constant companion.  When I bought a bluetooth keyboard it even replaced my laptop for many tasks.   When my Nexus died (the early models had quality problems) I bought a Samsung 7 inch tablet which has been a reliable friend.   Unfortunately, with age comes weakening vision … reading the news on the seven inch tablet became too much effort.   Last July I moved up to a Galaxy Tab A 10.1 inch which  I use for reading the morning news. (more…)

Robo

January 19, 2018

dial phoneIn the little ranch style house I grew up in in East Haven Connecticut, there was one phone.  It looked like this one, a masterpiece of efficient electro-mechanical machinery, weighing about 2 pounds.  By placing your finger in the hole of the number you wished to dial, rotating the dial until your finger was against the stopper, then releasing it, the internal mechanism would generate that number of pulses and sent them out on the phone line.  I think that phone rang two or three times a day, always answered by my Mom.   It was usually a call from a friend or family, but occasionally it would be a business inquiry from an establishment where my parents did business.  There was a small pad next to the phone for messages in case the call was for someone that wasn’t home. (more…)

New Landscapes … New Eyes

September 17, 2017

horizonIf you bothered to read my Home page, you will see a quote by Marcel Proust prominently displayed:  The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.  It is  a motto that suits me.  For most of my life I have been good at appreciating the life I have and found fulfillment in looking inward for adventure rather than outward.  But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t benefited from an adventure that stretched my boundaries now and then.

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