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Oct 31, 2007

1986 was an interesting year. The first PC virus was written in 1986. Seven astronauts were killed in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. The Chicago Bears blew out the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX. The New York Mets beat the Red Sox in the MLB World Series. Geraldo Rivera opened Al Capone’s vault on live television.

And, according to Carl Hanson, 1986 was the year when his firm started noise measurements for the MBTA Old Colony Greenbush line.

Twenty-one years (and several hundred public meetings) later, the Greenbush line is officially open for business. Carl was able to swing me a seat on the inaugural train yesterday and we got to see the results of all the blood sweat, tears, and years (5 for me, 10-20+ years for many others). The ride was smooth, the facilities were sparkling, the equipment was well-behaved, and everyone looked happy.

It is over. Finished. Thank god.

Greenbush inaugural locomotive

Some pics from the inaugural ceremony can be found here.

On another note, while the Greenbush line was designed to comply with FRA “quiet zone” rules, the Greenbush trains will be sounding their horns today in response to Halloween safety concerns. You can read the article yourself to see the background. Please, PLEASE remember that pedestrians have no business being anywhere near railroad tracks. Sooner or later, the pedestrians will collide with the train and trust me: the train always wins.

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Oct 29, 2007

So I noticed a Wired article with the title “Vinyl May Be Final Nail in CD’s Coffin

Although CDs have a wider dynamic range, mastering houses are often encouraged to compress the audio on CDs to make it as loud as possible: It’s the so-called loudness war. Since the audio on vinyl can’t be compressed to such extremes, records generally offer a more nuanced sound.

Not quite true, but close enough.

And then I read:

Another reason for vinyl’s sonic superiority is that no matter how high a sampling rate is, it can never contain all of the data present in an analog groove, Nyquist’s theorem to the contrary.

Somebody, please, make it stop…. Sigh.

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Oct 28, 2007

I want one: Marantz CR201 CD player.

I’ll definitely be selling this through the store once it’s available through normal channels.

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Savant Strikes Again:

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Oct 21, 2007

Quiet! Hotels strive to keep the noise level down- USA Today reports on the efforts undertaken by some hotels to reduce noise complaints by patrons:

Thin walls, loud neighbors, partiers and construction banging have ticked off almost anyone who has stayed in a hotel. Noise was the top complaint (ahead of room cleanliness) in the annual North American Hotel Guest Satisfaction Survey of 47,634 travelers recently released by J.D. Power and Associates.

The article mentions one of the easiest and least-expensive means of mitigating noise complaints: simply warn patrons of construction or other noisy activities. Alas, hotel staff tends to find it easier to ignore the matter and hope if goes away.

It is good to see that there is at least one hotel chain that is using “quiet” as a selling point.

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Oct 16, 2007

Well I’m back from the NYC MS Bike Tour, and I’m happy to report that I finished the 60 mile course (actually it was ~65 miles, but I’m not going to bill anyone for the extra 8%). All did not quite go well - around mile 25 my legs started cramping pretty badly, which is unusual since I’ve done plenty of 30-40 mile bike rides this past summer at a much faster pace with no problems. It turns out that my problem was hydration (here’s a hint for all you readers out there: your sole means of hydration the day before an athletic event should not be a 32-ounce iced-tea). So while I finished, it took me closer to 7 hours instead of the 4-4½ hours it should have taken. Lesson learned.

If you’re curious, here’s the 60-mile bike route. Yes, there is photographic evidence that I made the ride. And, I’m definitely going for the century next year.

Thanks to Bennett, Lance, Chris, Kristy, Laura, Jason, Tim, Heather, Kate, Ted Sensei, Joe, Allison, Jeff, Margaret, Melanie, Mentha, Youssef, Big Sister, Mom, Alvin, Eric, and the 2 or 3 people I’m sure I forgot to list for donating to the cause. Big thanks to Gary Glickman at Wilson Ihrig for putting this ride together.

By the way, it’s not too late to make a donation.

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Oct 10, 2007

Another day, another blog hit’s the InterWeb. 10×bLog(p²) is brought to you by “Savant” (of alt.sci.physics.acoustics fame?).

Two recent entries:

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Not directly acoustics-related, but given the number of projects I’ve worked on that get press (this being the latest), as well as the general number of noise/audio/acoustics news articles that are out there in mainstream outlets, I think Phil Windley hit the nail on the head when he asserts that the “most important lesson to learn about the press is that they always get it wrong.

It’s not to say that the press is malicious or ill-intentioned, but by necessity they can’t be experts at everything. Sometimes they get it wrong because they don’t understand the nuances of an analysis (especially anything related to technology, science or engineering); sometimes, while trying to provide a succinct summary for the reader, the press reports misrepresent the facts.

We need the press, but please remember that the words you read on the printed page of a newspaper or on the webpage of a media company is not necessarily the final work.

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I’m sorry I missed this - Audio Forensics Experts Reveal (Some) Secrets (at AES):

Some audio forensic examiners go to extraordinary lengths to validate recordings.

Catalin Grigoras, a forensic examiner from Bucharest, told the workshop how he uses the frequency signatures of local electrical power sources to pinpoint when and where recordings were made. According to Grigoras, digital recorders that are plugged into electrical sockets capture the frequency signature of the local power supply — a signature that varies over time.

The article goes on to explain that even battery-powered recorders have a “signature” if the mics used are electrics. Interesting.

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Oct 07, 2007

Some quick notes from AES:

And in closing, here is a little music video that Mercenary Audio put together to introduce Crowley and Tripp’s new El Diablo microphone:

(If you’re reading this through my RSS feed, you’ll have to click through to see the movie.)

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Oct 05, 2007

I’m off to AES to mingle, discover. and catch up. Hope to see you there.

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Oct 02, 2007

A couple of weeks ago, I introduced a new feature to this website: the Cross-Spectrum store. I did this in response to various people asking me to recommend products for home audio/theater systems or for DIY audio and measurement work.

The “inventory,” for now, is fairly limited. This is a result of my philosophy: I’m only going to offer products that I trust so shoppers will know from the start that they are getting (in my opinion) quality products.

Every product in my store falls into one of the following categories:

The only exception to these rules are DVD movies - those are basically a reflection of my taste in videos rather than an endorsement of quality. And by they way, I still consider Once Upon a Time in the West to be the greatest western ever filmed.

I will add to the store over time, but I want to me clear that the goal of this store isn’t to have the most comprehensive inventory in the world - I want to build a store that has the type of products that I would buy. Because, of course, if it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough for everyone else.

Questions, comments and suggestions are welcome.

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Gary Glickman from Wilson Ihrig’s NYC office suckered convinced me to participate in a charity bike ride to raise money for MS research.

I will be doing the 60-mile route in support of this cause, and I would be grateful to any readers who can offer support. If you wish to make a donation (no amount is too big or too small) you can donate online with a credit card. If you don’t want to use your credit card, you can send me a check made out to “MS BIKE TOUR” and I’ll submit it with my cash donations. Contact me for more details.


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Everyone’s favorite most respected most well known speaker maker, Amar Bose, sits down with Wired to discuss audio. Love him or hate him (for the record, count me as a fan although I agree with much of the criticism directed toward Bose products), the man is first and foremost an engineer.

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Heather pointed me to an article that discusses a research project designed to catalog sounds that can be used to construct “sweeter” urban soundscapes:

‘The strong focus of traditional engineering acoustics is on reducing noise level,’ added Davies. ‘But not only is that failing, it is also ignoring the many possibilities for creating positive soundscapes in the environments in which we live.’

Once again, Europe leads while we waste time talking about O.J. and Britney.

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