SIGNALS

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Apr 21, 2015 1 comments
A quick look at the pie chart suggests that the music industry exists in a nice state of equilibrium. Sales appear to be evenly split among downloads, streaming, and physical media. If you were a financial planner, and your client's portfolio was as neatly balanced as that, you could sleep soundly. But of course, that equilibrium is only a snapshot of a very dynamic situation. In reality, the way we listen to music is changing fast.

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Apr 14, 2015 21 comments
So anyway, I was standing in line at my local FedEx store. I’m there quite a bit, returning review products from whence they came. A nice lady comes up behind me with a box measuring about 12 x 12 x 12. It looks heavy, so I offer to hold it for her. “I hope it’s not too heavy,” she says. “It’s my old records—for my 16-year-old nephew. He loves records.” Hmm, I think to myself. Is this an omen—has she handed me some kind of business opportunity?
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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Apr 07, 2015 2 comments
It's 8 p.m. on a Saturday night. For reasons that really aren't worth explaining, you need to connect from a micro-USB port to a mini-USB cable. But where are you going to find a male-micro-USB-to-female-mini-USB cable? Of course, you head to Radio Shack. The kid there will sell you one. But, going forward, will a New York hedge fund sell one?

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Mar 31, 2015 6 comments
I’m shopping for a new TV. Should I buy an older technology that performs well and costs very little, or a newer technology that is better but costs more? Specifically, I’m trying to decide which LCD to buy—HD or 4K? Two angels have landed on my shoulders. As you might expect, they have very different points of view...
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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Mar 24, 2015 0 comments
Last time, we took a quick look at some of the workings of Meridian's new MQA (Master Quality Assurance) technology. As we observed, MQA claims to shoehorn all the fidelity of a high-res file into a standard-res file size. Terrific. But with 24/192 and lossless formats already well established, what is the incentive to introduce a new format? It turns out that there are plenty of incentives.

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Mar 10, 2015 2 comments
Meridian Audio Ltd. does some pretty cool stuff. Its hardware products are well known in audio circles, but it is their innovation at the further reaches of audio frontiers that really catches my eye. The latest example of Meridian's creativity, via Bob Stuart, is Master Quality Authenticated (MQA). MQA is an infrastructure of technologies designed to promote a high-quality signal path from the master recording to playback loudspeaker. More specifically, MQA is designed to stream hi-res files more efficiently than a brute-force transfer, and Meridian claims that it can improve the playback quality of the original file.

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Feb 24, 2015 5 comments
"I think we should just be friends."
"You're going to make someone really happy someday."
"We should start seeing other people."
"It's not you, it's me."

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Feb 10, 2015 0 comments
The numbers don't lie. One look at sales figures will verify that Apple and Samsung rule the world of high-end smartphones. Every new phone is eagerly anticipated, and phone companies compete for first dibs on new models. Apple and Samsung - when it comes to smartphones, those are the names you think of. Sony - not so much. That is truly unfortunate, because in some ways, Sony is making far better phones.

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Jan 27, 2015 4 comments
Do you know what Tizen is? Tizen might be in your home right now. You might even be looking at it this very moment. Do you know why Samsung dearly wants to put Tizen in your home theater, and even, if possible, in your pocket? Hmm, my fellow citizens of Troy, maybe we should take a look at that big wooden horse sitting outside our city gates.

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Jan 20, 2015 13 comments
I am shopping for a new car. For me, a car is more than basic transportation. In fact, getting from point A to point B is far down on my list. For example, I would gladly trade a practical item such as a spare tire in return for a bit more performance. Things like cargo capacity and riding comfort are unimportant, while horsepower and 0-to-60 times are critical. I’ve always appreciated slick audio/video gear. Same thing with cars.
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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Jan 13, 2015 2 comments
Much like puberty, the Consumer Electronics Show can be awkward, embarrassing, something to look forward to, and something to be glad about when it's finally over. During puberty, your voice gets deeper, hair starts to appear in new places, and you learn what the word “gonads” means. CES is exactly the same. However, unlike puberty, CES happens every year. To help you cope with the strangeness of CES, my curious young friend, here are some pointers from the show floor.

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Dec 29, 2014 1 comments
Saturday night at Molasses Junction. Good food. Well, bar food. And spirits, lots of spirits. There are Harleys parked outside in the gravel lot. I pity the fool who backs his Prius into one of those hogs. Some attorneys and doctors ride Harleys on weekends. I scrutinize the gentlemen and ladies who are riding these Harleys and try to imagine any of them giving me an appendectomy. Uh, no. That’s never going to happen.

My table is lively with conversation. You already know how the thread goes. The government is messed up, our bosses grind on us all week long, the new Corvette blows the doors off the old Corvette, college football is way better than pro football. Then we talk about man caves. The mood intensity clicks up a notch. Man caves are serious business. Who has 4K? Who doesn’t? The question of cost comes up...

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Dec 16, 2014 2 comments
The plunging, fiery death of plasma TVs, the mind bendingly questionable benefits of curved TVs, the looks-awesome-up-close-and-personal 4K TVs, the ridiculously low prices on ridiculously big TVs, the intriguing new investments in quantum-dot TV manufacturing plants—the wide world of televisions is lively with fast and furious developments. But there is one development in particular that, I think, will overshadow all the others.

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Dec 02, 2014 2 comments
It is the patriotic duty of every American man, woman, and child to go shopping for a TV on Black Friday. After spending most of Thursday up-armoring me and my vehicle, I went to a Best Buy on Friday morning. Two observations: First, I lived to tell about it. Second, it takes about 20 minutes for the ambulance to drive from the Best Buy to the nearest ER.

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Nov 18, 2014 4 comments
You remember Gravity, right? Outer space, pulverized space ships, Sandra Bullock floating weightlessly, heavy breathing—pretty good film from both a technical and narrative standpoint. You might already have a copy on Blu-ray. But I'd like to give you two reasons to consider buying it again. A new "Diamond Luxe Edition" Blu-ray due in February promises to be very interesting for both film aficionados and home-theater enthusiasts. Doubly interesting if you are both.

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