September 13, 2004

Odds and Sods

Just a bunch of random things to clear out from a weekend of sitting on the couch like a lazy-ass watching as much football as I could.

I can no longer get on IRC from work. I can connect but anything I type (that isn't /whois) bumps me. Meer says it's not their problem, AOL says it's not theirs. Fun, fun, fun. In the short term, I won't be on irc.

I spent some time on Saturday rearranging furniture to get a response from my side surrounds in my basement. I was never happy with my surrounds, everything seemed so localized rather than "enveloping" as you're supposed to get with bipolar surround speakers. I took a tip from UltimateAV's Russ Herschelmann for better placement: play pink noise out of a single rear channel and move the speaker around, with your eyes closed, until you can no longer pinpoint the exact location of the source. This is the spot for your surround. I discovered that my surrounds were placed best for when I was sitting upright in my chair, as if I had a pole up my ass. Moving my couches 12" forward made it better for my actual listening position, but required a lot of pushing stuff around. Seems better so far, I'll keep you posted, but it's a simple trick to improving your sound w/out shelling out a dime.

While you're at it, make sure that your seat and speakers/subs are not falling on a primary standing wave node: 1/4, 1/2, or 3/4 of the distance from either wall. Makes a big difference if you're seated in a null or a peak, and there's really not a whole lot EQ can do about room modes. Most importantly, do not, I repeat, do not sit all the way against the back wall. That too is a node, and a recipe for boomy bass.

As I mentioned, I spent all day sat/sun on the couch watching football. College games are fun, but my gf and I were ready for the meat of the NFL, especially with Fox making its HD debut (albeit at 720p, sigh) with six (!!!) HD games on Sunday. Game one, Redskins/Bucs, was a reasonable first entry to HD broadcasts. The 5.1 was ok, though the applause in the surrounds was very discrete, like they had some guy clapping into a mic for each rear channel. Picture quality was reasonable, slightly less than one would expect from ESPN-HD. The second game, Giants/Eagles, was horrific. The sound was very low and essentially mono. Any time it would cut to commercial you'd be blasted by the volume change. The picture quality was terrible to boot: blooming and high contrast everywhere, very little detail, a lot of compression artifacts. Looked no better than 480p. Any shot of the sideline exploded into a wash of unintelligible white. By that point, I was crying for ESPN-HD's sub-par performance. Anything but this! Overall: game one: B+, game two: D-. But hey, who ever would have expected HD football on fox. Let's just count our blessings here.

Turning it over the ESPN-HD for the Sunday night game, it appeared that Pat Summerall was about to keel over right on the set. I'm amazed that geezer lasted through the entire game without dying. PQ and audio were as expected from ESPN, but please guys, enough with the Circle Surround! Nobody cares!

My first lecture of the fall semester is tonight, another group of unsuspecting students about to be taught COM and XUL and Bugzilla (oh my!), with a heavy dose of software engineering and open source methodology. Now that I have the class written (unlike last year when i was writing most lectures the @&*$! day before), it should go a lot more smoothly and I'll have time to sprinkle in extra elements.

I'm debating whether I should plunk down the $$ and buy Ableton's Live multitrack software, or wait for the nebulous ProBand from the fruit. ProBand could either be the solution to all my recording dreams or a ploy by FruitCo to ensure that nobody else released something with that name and confused customers. I guess time will tell, but until them I'm caught in a micro$oft-esque "waiting for the vaporware app to materialize" cycle of despair. Either way, it gives me a little time to start writing some words for some of the songs I've already written. I appear to be very bitter and full of hatred for my ex-wife. Who'd have thought?

Posted by pinkerton at September 13, 2004 1:27 PM