While wandering the aisles of the recent Audio Engineering Society show in San Francisco, I found a great little measurement rig for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch that deserved inclusion in my recent article on DIY audio measurement in the January 2011 issue of S+V [on stands now]. Unfortunately, the article had already gone to press, so I thought I'd report on the system here.
Back in the days when a decent TV cost $4,000, I never hesitated to recommend spending $300 or so on professional calibration. But now you can get a pretty good set for less than $1,000. Far be it from me to tell you what your priorities should be, but to me, spending three bills to have a $900 TV calibrated seems as silly installing a $10,000 Viking range a 30,000 mobile home. Does this harsh nancial reality leave TV bargain hunters at the mercy of the factory calibration?
A home theater can sound great, but there's a certain excitement that comes with watching a movie in a large theater packed with giant professional speakers. The sound is just bigger - more like what we expect movies to sound like.
Did you know they stopped making speakers? Sure, you can still buy things that make sound when connected to an amplifier, but now they;re called "solutions." The idea here is to solve problems that emerge from the public's simultaneous love of good sound and hatred of the traditional speaker form factor. Solutions have been the mantra of late at Triad Speakers. In fact, some of the company's recent creations would have been considered downright crazy back in the days when the opinions of enthusiasts dictated speaker designs.
Lots of companies make cars. Lots of companies make video projectors. But when you look under the hood of either product, you’ll realize that not many companies make engines — i.e., the piston engines that power cars and the light engines that power projectors. That still leaves plenty of things to do like add a body, decide which features should accompany the engine, and sometimes tweak the engine to better suit individual needs.
If you're more than 30 years old, you may remember when almost all speakers looked like the BIC RtR 1530 featured in a recent Parts Express e-mailer: big woofers and big enclosures, with little or no effort expended to make everything presentable. Nowadays, in the interest of gaining our domestic partners' permission to buy the damned things in the first place, we demand that our speakers be compact and gorgeous.
I don't know who said, "You can never be too rich or too thin," but it wasn't a speaker engineer. Thinness is the enemy of good sound because in order to produce sound, a diaphragm of some sort has to move back and forth. The lower the frequency of sound, the farther back and forth that diaphragm has to move.
Just when you think they're all done adding more channels to sound systems, they add a couple more. The June 18 premiere of Toy Story 3 also marked the premiere of Dolby Surround 7.1, a technology that allows a commercial cinema to add two additional channels of sound to the 5.1 channels they already have. The existing left, center, right, left surround, right surround, and low-frequency effects channels have been augmented with left back surround and right back surround channels.
In the heyday of Blockbuster, music documentaries and concert videos were tough to find unless you were willing to settle for musty oldies like the Three Tenors or musty newbies like Britney Spears. But the rise of video-streaming technology - and in particular, Netflix's Watch Instantly streaming service - has made music-video content of all types easier to access.