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Feb 21, 2008

I wish Sincy would stop playing with that imaginary friend of his.”

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Feb 20, 2008

We hardly knew ye. Rest in peace.

HD is dead. Long live HD!

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Feb 13, 2008

In tonight’s Law & Oder episode (“Illegal”), the prosecutors hired a pair of acoustical experts “from Boston” to examine an audio recordiing.

One of the consultants was named “Leo.” I assume this was an homage. Nice.

Speaking of Leo, the GBC-ASA was planning on having a March meeting to celebrate the publication of his memoir. Unfortunately Leo has taken ill recently, so we’ll have to reschedule. Get better Leo!

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Wired talks about another non-lethal sonic weapon:

Here’s how it works: Inferno uses four frequencies spread out over 2 to 5 kHz. The idea behind it is that unlike a regular siren, these particular frequencies have a uniquely disturbing effect on people (and presumably cats, dogs and any other living thing). At 123 dB, it’s loud, but not significantly louder than any other alarm system. The advantage, according to Dr. Goldman, is the combination of frequencies. The human ear just doesn’t like it. I agree, I really didn’t like it.

That’s all well and good, but we’re still talking about a weapon that can be defeated with a 10-cent pair of earplugs.

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Feb 11, 2008

Hometracked ran a piece last week on the abuse of the infamous Auto-Tune pitch-correction software where the effects were identified on recent pop hits. The recording industry just excels at finding ways to dig its own grave.

Funny thing was that I noticed most of these effects on the various songs that Des points out, although I (like some of the commentators on the site) thought that it may have been an “artistic” choice on some of those songs.

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A rant on Bad Science about the portrayal of technical subjects in the media:

I know I’m wrong to care. On the BBC news site “crews were hopeful the 20m cubic litres of water could be held back and not breach the dam wall”. And that’ll be a struggle, since “cubic litres” are a nine-dimensional measuring system, so the hyperdimensional water could breach the dam in almost any one of the five other dimensions you haven’t noticed yet.

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So, you have a spare $6 million laying around, just burning a hole in your pocket? You can do what Jeremy Kipnis did: build a big (and ugly) ultimate home theater.

Although based on those pictures, I’m guessing that not much of that $6 mil went into room treatment.

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Feb 01, 2008

An article in Livesound International discusses the eternal struggle between acoustics and the architects who refuse to take acoustics seriously (you may have to scroll down a bit):

We should all agree that a good sound system cannot fix a bad acoustical space. Neither can a great one. No amount of amplifiers and speakers can “fix” a large room with insufficient acoustical absorption, no matter how loud it plays or well its pattern is controlled. Even with the most exotic line arrays, the room will sound far better if properly treated to optimize the reverberation time relative to performance expectations.

Yet for years American architects have wrongly believed that noise and reverberation problems can be cured with exotic sound reproduction systems. They can’t. There is no $300,000 sound system that sounds good in a tiled restroom. Nor is there a three dollar sound system that does.

One needn’t look very far to understand why it’s difficult to communicate in most modern buildings in the United States- it’s the fault of our architects. Their training is lousy.

Many American architects live exclusively in a visual world. It’s often all about the pretty picture in a magazine and on the web. Many European architects live in a visual and aural world and realize that the design of a facility affects the quality of sound reproduction.

Our architectural schools do not teach the subject properly. One of our more prestigious architectural schools offers a total of 123 total classes in its curriculum. Only one of them, “Design for the Luminous and Sonic Environment” appears to have an emphasis on the aural environment. Even in that one we take a back seat to lighting. Typical.

This is an insightful editorial, and I wish I had more time to write about it. Certainly the argument that architects need to account for “aural” spaces is familiar - Barry Blesser discusses the point at length in his book “Spaces Speak, Are You Listening?: Experiencing Aural Architecture.” And there are fire codes that set speech intelligibility criteria for emergency communication systems.

But there are no codes that regulate acoustical comfort under normal conditions. And as a result, we have citizens complaining that they can’t understand their elected representatives at public meetings.

[via Emmaco’s blog]

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Chano Santamaria at Reel 2 Real published a nice breakdown of the frequency range of various musical instruments and how equalization can be used to accentuate a particular characteristic of an instrument.

Equalization often causes more problems then it solves, but it is sometimes unavoidable - if you’re going to use it, you may as well be informed.

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A Scientific American article reports on the use of acoustic fire suppression.

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