So much like the other million and a half blogs out there covering the Apple marketing machine I will let you know my thoughts on the iPad. Along with all the other confused and probably amused people out there I just have to ask why the name reminds us so much of an apple branded feminine hygiene product (even my sister agrees)? Seriously, the product is forever going to give this impression:

Moving on, the tech specs of the machine is rather hard to judge since it is using all new processing architecture; ie I don’t know how powerful it is. I believe that apple is trying to target users who want a netbook into buying one of these. That and their screaming rabid fanboys and girls who will brave apocalyptic conditions to line up for one. But really where does the iPad technically compete? If it is basically running the iPhone OS then it is just a really big iPod touch with more processing power! Will you pay $USD499 for an enlarged iPod touch?

The screen runs at 1024×768 which is a little disappointing for a 10 inch screen but I suppose any higher resolution would make it hard to type anything- or cut too deep into apple’s profit margins. There are no usb ports, I repeat NO usb ports on the tablet. If you need usb ports then you will need the iPad dock which is an additional accessory and in turn additional moolah you need to shell out. But really why would you need usb ports anyways when you can only transfer apple authorized files from the apple store or from itunes?

So not only is apple trying to sell an enlarged ipod touch for $499 under the guise of a netbook, but they are conflicting the utility of the netbook by restricting the material you are allowed to install into it. Nothing new there I suppose (see ipod/iphone). When you are shelling out your hard earned dough you should also note that multitasking is for suckers, since this $500 brick doesn’t do it. You are going to be just as special as all those other idiots you are lining up with when waiting to buy one.

My theory is that when people buy apple merchandise they are purchasing a lifestyle as opposed to a product. They are purchasing something which will enhance their image in some way shape or form towards their ideal self. I find that a bit sad since they rather spend money on changing something that cannot be bought. The reality of apple products is that nothing they make is new or is practically better than anything else on the market. Everything they make has been done elsewhere for cheaper and in my opinion if you buy an apple product then you are just another sucker with too much money on their hands.

What I would like to see is how we can implement this device in other fields. If we can unlock the hardware and open development up then I believe this device shows promise. Instead of focusing development on useless lightsaber apps imagine what you can do if you made the product more durable, stripped it of software/hardware locks and gave it to say doctors or field engineers. Too bad though, since that will destroy the “cool” hipster image that defines apple nowadays and it won’t happen.

A little about Yuki Kajiura

September 7, 2009

I don’t expect many people to know, but Yuki Kajiura is a Japanese composer and producer behind many anime projects such as Noir, Tsubasa Chronicle and Mai-Hime, as well as being the brains behind FictionJunction, See-Saw and Kalafina. I was first interested in see-saw from their performance in Gundam Seed opening and at that time I had no idea who was behind the music, later see-saw also produced the song Akatsuki no Kuruma and that was what got me interested. It wasn’t particularly the voice of the singer which was so interesting but it was the mix of instruments and the composition which captured my attention.

Very rarely does a composer or producer become more famous than the singers, but in this case Kajiura has done it. FictionJunction, See-saw and Kalafina are all her projects, and she hires singers to suit each song’s needs. Her music is even categorized as “Kajiuran”, crediting her unique style of music which meshes Japanese with European sounds. The music she creates is more pop-opera, mixing chorus chants with violins and the usual pop instruments. She is able to sing and perform piano in her own compositions which is quite amazing since her music is quite sophisticated compared to your average pop.

At the moment I am listening to Kalafina’s album “Seventh Heaven” and it is so clearly Kajiura’s work, mirroring the style she used in FictionJunction exactly. It is a very enchanting style which relaxes very easily while still being exciting to listen to, the voices that she chooses are perfect for the role too, so soothing to the ear.

I have also been asking around and reading various things on audio and have a system in mind which should cater for my needs whilst staying within my budget.

  • cambridge audio 340C
  • cambridge audio 540R
  • Yamaha NS333 bookshelfs
  • Yamaha YST-SW515 sub

I will have to go audition this setup to make sure it is what I want, but I just hope that it will be the godsend I am hoping for. The speakers are the really important part, but the amp and player are fairly solid products for the price from what I have heard so the real choosing is for the speakers and sub. My dad runs an all Yamaha system and I wasn’t too impressed; good for movies but seems to lack something in music. Maybe the levels in my car and room are different, but I shall reserve judgment until I have listened to the proposed system.

Sound bytes

September 2, 2009

I spent a good few hours tweaking my car sound system the other day, and no matter how I tweaked it I found that something seemed to be not quite right. Originally I upped the gain on my amp and I got more separation (I define this as being able to hear individual instruments) out of my music but as a result, the tweeters were way too bright and absolutely dominated everything else. So I turned the gain down on the tweeters until everything was at the same level but then I noticed that no matter how high I turned up the volume, the sound seemed to lack clarity (clarity I define as being able to hear an instrument clearly, ie be able to distinguish similar sounds).  All my mp3s seemed to play with a more noticeable constant background interference after I tweaked my system. I didn’t really know why until I switched over to a CD. My CD seemed to play much better, with greater clarity and separation than the mp3 counterpart. It wasn’t until I read on the internet that I knew why I heard what I heard.

Basically, mp3s are lossy compressions of the original CD track. Take 1 song from a CD, remove the detail that the encoder thinks people can’t hear and thats how you get an mp3. To play back, take an mp3, insert some detail that may or may not have been removed in encoding and that is how an mp3 sounds. Basically, you are getting information removed and added in which deviates greatly from the original CD track. The noise floor is also raised in an mp3 compared to the original CD track. This is from mp3s mostly encoded at 320kbps and I was able to notice it, lets not go to any lower bitrate because I can only imagine the compression artifacts…

In effect what I have done by turning up the gain is amplify the usually inaudible noise from the mp3 to audible levels. It is true that I have also increased the dynamic range but the noise just kills the music. Another thing I have realized is that my car is probably not the best environment to listen to music due to the huge amounts of interference present. For one thing there is road noise, and then there is inadequate wiring insulation, also electrical interference from all the other devices drawing current from the battery.

I will need to go buy some CDs to compare quality between them and mp3s, but there are so many variables I need to account for that this process of converting to an audiophile will take a bloody long time and a freaking lot of money!

Everybody likes lists. I am also preempting my article by trivialising it in order to lower expectations and increase your perceived interest. (I am such a cynic) Which brings me to my first point which is somewhat ironic.

Everybody has something to say(intelligent, stupid or otherwise)
Everybody wants to be heard, but sometimes you don’t need to tell everybody what you are thinking on the internet because frankly, we just don’t give a shit. When the population of the internet is approximately the size of China and North America put together (I would’ve used countries for comparison but really nothing adds up to 1.5 billion people easily so I had to add a country with a continent), there are just too many people who wants desperately to be heard. Unfortunately, not all of them are interesting, nor are they particularly literate. Speaking of which…

Twitter is the dumbest idea that has ever succeeded
Here are a few random quotes I just pulled from the ever popular… I don’t even know if I can call it a social networking application but anyways here are a few random quotes I pulled from twitter to illustrate my point.

omg, when I get home I am so going to blog about your new haircut.
I think hobo vagina is illegal in Ohio. Fish tacos are not.
I just asked the twittered world for health advice. Something is wrong.

I certainly hope that the offline population of the world will restore my faith in humanity, although they slowly declining…

4chan
The dredges of the internet are sometimes funny, but most of the time it is just really really retarded. With famed channels /b/and as the creator of many famous internet memes such as rickrolling and the lolcatz one must wonder what the fuck goes on in the minds of those who create that random shit. It seems that the productive energies of thousands of people have been channeled into putting captions onto funny pictures and redirecting video links to Rick Astley’s “Never gonna give you up”. However there are slightly more disturbing cases like having a massacre being announced in 4chan before it is actually carried out. Like WTF?

It makes everybody an expert
Just because you can find it on google and have read something a million times you cannot claim yourself to be an expert in the field unless you have some practical experience. With so much knowledge just a search away you have a generation of keyboard warriors who think they are king shit in for example the field of automotive repair. Said person will then go and literally weld their diff shut. Really now, things aren’t always as easy as they appear to be and it would be best to remember to take advice from somebody who is paid to do the job on a daily basis than from some guy who trolls an internet forum

That concludes this Wednesday’s special rant. Keep posted for Poetry Friday!

It is amazing what we take for granted sometimes. Hearing is something that most of us are capable of but not all of us appreciate fully. I am not talking about musical taste because that is very individual, but rather the perception of sound quality and accurate sound reproduction. Being the elitist sound whore that I like to pretend to be, I like to think that I have a certain affinity to good quality music. I have no idea how I managed to “cultivate” this obsession, because I had never been a huge follower of music and SQ until recently.

When I listen to mp3s I can actually hear distortion and what I call sound artifacts, where certain parts of a song are muffled or where the instruments aren’t clear or are harsher than they are meant to be. I don’t know how I know that but I just have a feeling that it doesn’t sound right. Mp3s go through a process of compression, that is how mp3s are so much smaller than CD tracks. Through the compression there is a loss of audio quality because that is how the encoding process is. CD quality is as close to live music as you can get without going to a performance these days. And of course, you will need the quality equipment to listen to all this.

Your music is only as good as the equipment you listen with. You can have the best recording ever but if you listen to it through the earphones supplied with your ipod it will sound like absolute shit. I can tell you now, the best earphones will never match up to even a midrange decent sound system. Also sound processing is important when you want accurate playback, of which i find ipods are somewhat notorious for. The sound processing on those things are horrendous! I can listen to my 6 year old iriver and it sounds better than an ipod made today, with the exact same headphones! The difference to the average ear is probably not too noticeable, and to tell the truth I would have to listen to songs I am familiar with before I can distinguish the difference, but for what you are paying for it is just not right.

But when you listen to music through commercialised audio goods and then go to a specialist retailer you can just hear the difference. It becomes night and day and you wonder how the hell you ever listened to music through your old speakers/earphones. When I went shopping for my car speakers my ears were opened to the possibilities, after driving 15 minutes in the car with old speakers, then walking into a room full of high quality car speakers I will never turn back.

Do your ears a favour, buy some better earphones or speakers. When it comes to AV, when you haven’t heard of a brand then it is good. Koss and sennheiser are good for earphones as well as shure, these you might be able to find at a local electronic retailer. Speakers you will be very hard pressed to find good ones at your local harvies or JB, because that area is dominated by more mainstream audio which is at a fraction of the price. You would probably not be able to justify its cost against the perceived benefit. Decent speaker sets cost upwards of $900, for 1 pair. This would be more a floor standing unit with high and mid drivers plus a woofer, or a really good pair of bookshelfs. They say to spend twice as much on audio as you would on a TV, but in audio they say to spend as much as you would on speakers as you would the sub!

So being an self proclaimed audiophile does have its drawbacks… which is that it is a very very expensive hobby!

PS. on a completely unrelated note, here is an image I stumbled upon at work. Don’t blame me if you piss your pants laughing cos that is almost what happened to me at work today if I were a man with lesser bowel control. Image.