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SIGNALS

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Dec 18, 2012 0 comments

It is the job of engineers to push the envelope and design the products of the future, not the products of today. When the first Compact Disc players were on the drawing board, 780-nm lasers were extremely expensive, but engineers anticipated that low-cost versions would soon become available. They bet right: cheap laser modules were perfected just before the CD format’s launch.

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Jul 01, 2014 6 comments
As you probably know, the Supreme Court took a dim view of Aereo, and ruled that its activities were illegal because Aereo violated broadcasters’ copyrights. In response, Aereo pulled the plug. Literally. Within hours, it notified its subscribers that the jig was up, and that it was shutting down. Signals went dark, and remaining subscriptions will be refunded. R.I.P. Aereo. But wait a minute.....

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Oct 21, 2013 6 comments
Their future seemed so very bright. The SACD format, with a bit rate four times that of CD, was designed to lead the CD to new heights. DVD-Audio, sibling of the wildly successful DVD-Video format, offered audiophile fantasy surround at 96 kilohertz/24 bit. Hard on the heels of Avatar, 3DTV promised to change TV viewing forever.
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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Nov 20, 2012 0 comments

TV manufacturing is a tough business. You’re making a perfectly good black-and-white TV and then someone comes along with a color TV. So you need to make color TVs. Then TVs become digital. Then they become high-def. Then they become flat. Then they become big. Then they become 3D. Then they become really big. Then they become 4K. It just never ends.

Filed under
Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Nov 12, 2013 3 comments
Is our most fervent technology infatuation about to reverse course?

Without question, smartphones are awesome, and they have dramatically changed our everyday lives. We measure our self-worth by the number of bars we have. When our phones are fully charged, we are happy. When they are discharged, we are in full panic mode. Kids today probably can’t fathom how anyone functioned before the advent of smartphones. They ask, “Dude, how did people post pictures of themselves on Facebook while water skiing?”

Filed under
Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Mar 14, 2012 0 comments

You’ve got to hand it to Walmart. First, they make a zillion dollars selling DVD and Blu-ray discs to everyone. Now, they’re set to make another zillion dollars so you don’t have to actually use the discs. Brilliant, simply brilliant.

Filed under
Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Apr 01, 2014 6 comments
Frankly, I thought he was dead. You know—like one of those male Hollywood stars who’s gone through three too many facelifts and goes into seclusion. Then suddenly he reappears in Teen Beat magazine with a photo of him kitesurfing with his 18-year-old supermodel girlfriend who is naked and you say to yourself—"Whoa! I thought he was dead!" Anyway, last night, precisely at midnight, there was a knock on my door. I unwisely opened it, and there stood Professor Lirpa.

Filed under
Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Sep 23, 2011 0 comments

Ah, the irony. Unwanted traffic noise is a bane of modern existence. Countless engineers have spent entire careers laboring to reduce vehicle noises from engine, exhaust, tires and aerodynamic turbulence. Most drivers and passengers prefer quieter cars; for starters, it makes it easier to listen to music.

Filed under
Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Feb 03, 2014 3 comments
Some people watch the Super Bowl to see some football. Some just want to see the commercials. I tune into the Super Bowl to hear the music. Unlike the game, this year didn’t disappoint. I was blown away by an opera singer selling nothing, and a folk singer selling his soul.

Filed under
Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Jun 17, 2014 2 comments
Seat 9D is an aisle seat. The front cover of the Safety Instructions in my seat-back pocket advises me that, "Final assembly of this aircraft was completed in Brazil." I wonder why that is relevant. Should that make me feel more secure, or less? Are Brazilians good, or perhaps lacking, when it comes to assembling airplanes? In any case, I look around me to find the nearest exit. Then I notice that almost everyone on board has a consumer electronics device in their hands.

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Apr 09, 2013 0 comments

You're probably familiar with Amazon's AutoRip feature. When you buy certain CDs from Amazon, you also get free access to a cloud copy. Now, Amazon has extended the feature to include sales of many vinyl records. When you think about it, a ripped vinyl file is a much more valuable than a ripped CD file.

Filed under
Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Apr 25, 2012 0 comments

I recently received a thoughtful e-mail from S+V reader Michael Kiley. He commiserated with my perception that the general level of sound quality has declined. Like me, he worried that the rise of mobile phones as our preferred playback source, the popularity of listening to compressed files stored or streamed (and through earbuds), isn't exactly making for audiophile heaven. Mr. Kiley's letter provided some perspective and got me to thinking…

Filed under
Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Aug 14, 2012 0 comments

Boy, do I feel like a dope. I was under the impression that the decades of conspicuous consumption were finished. What with all the Occupy protesters and unemployed French literature majors out there, I thought that anything ostentatious was unfashionable. Or, as French literature majors would say, passé.

Filed under
Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Aug 01, 2013 0 comments
Of course, you have a wall of discs. And what an impressive wall it is. LPs, CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays. There is no better feeling than firing up the home theater and sipping on a martini as you casually peruse your massive collection, pondering which disc to deploy. Moreover, with Vudu to Go, you can take the wall with you anywhere you go.

Filed under
Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Jan 15, 2014 1 comments
Clearly, things that are apparent to our senses are real. For example, if I see or hear something, it’s real. But I see and hear things in my dreams, and they certainly are not real. What if the things in my waking life are just as illusionary? Hmm, perhaps we can only say that reality is what we believe it to be.

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