Websites of the Day : How is your hearing?!

The range of most hi-fidelity equipment is 20hz to 20Khz. And while we generally don’t, as listeners have issues with low frequencies, from the age of 30 on we begin losing the ability to hear high frequencies.  And a lot of factors contribute to this decline, with the number one cause just being noise abuse… going to that club with that blasting music, or listening to music at window shaking levels in your home or car, or even working in a noise intensive environment such as a construction site or range or being a fire-fighter. And beyond noise abuse  there are also medical factors that can contribute to hearing loss over time. So generally speaking the 18year old (pre head banging music at ear splitting levels) is able to hear very close to that 20 khz super high frequency, they can do that full range from 20hz to 20khz. Whereas by the time you hit forty, you are down around 15 or 16 Khz as your upper hearing frequency.

That means kids and young adults can hear 25% more than older adults. In a very real way you could create a cd or LP, that only young people could hear. It wouldn’t be the most musical thing, but it would work.

Hey, I see a popular and marketable idea in there! As a kid I would have loved the idea of a cd or lp or audio book that was kids only, that my parents couldn’t hear. Man, that’s genius actually. I’m patenting that idea right now.

All this to say you need to take care of yourself and have regular hearing tests, to  see where you stand,  and meet with a physician to discuss slowing or remedying any decline.

Here are a few great sites for testing your hearing:

 

 

https://www.starkey.com/online-hearing-test#!/GreetingPrimary

 

http://www.audiocheck.net/audiotests_frequencycheckhigh.php

http://wooferbasstest.com/sound-test-1khz-5khz-10khz-16khz/sound-effects.html

 

You have to be careful which sites you use to run these tests because some are decidedly off. Where they list a tone as 17khz but it is really just the 15khz tone. Some do this for all frequencies beyond 15khz, so you hear a tone where most adults and hard partying teens shoulkd be hearing nothing. So nothing replaces a quality hearing test, with your physician.

 

https://www.audicus.com/5-activities-to-improve-your-hearing/

 

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CD Music Reviews

Tales from Topographic Oceans – a decent stereo soundstage, I just don’t care for the music
Turtle Creek Chorale: Psalms – I don’t find the soundstage particularly wide, for much of it it is very mono
The Raven by Rebecca Pidgeon – I don’t think the recording is especially impressive, but I like her voice and I like her folksy songs. Very… listenable.
Raven in the Grave by Raveonettes – not my cup of tea. Syrupy distorted singing.
Ant Man Soundtrack and Mission Impossible Rogue Nation soundtrack are both great.

Orff: Carmina Burana Holst The Planets – Nice stereo imaging. Brilliantly revealing songs, that are the stuff of blockbusters. I also listened to Orff:Carmina by the London Symphony and Orff: Carmina and all instrumental version by Peabody Conservatory, and while both are nice I prefer the sound on this Sir Charles Mackerras version

I will put up links and images tonight.

YouTube vs Roku/Fire TV YouTube! CDs vs Records! And the de-evolution of America. Winner? MUSIC COMPANIES!

So i hate YouTube on the web.

I hate anything with an unmoderated comments section, that revels in talk show idiocy, or ‘attention through controversy’ or bad behavior.

But thankfully YouTube via streaming devices Roku or Amazon Fire TV, is actually devoid of those moronic comments and is more signal rather noise.

This week it has been brilliant helping me research and scratch my hifi/ audio need.

And by far, by far, the Youtube Channel I found the most useful of all, is the s)mply fantastic channel AUDIOHOLICS.

These guys can clearly call bs on the fuzzy thinking that makes up too much of hi-fi marketing and hype.

Such as the sillyness of various Youtube channels going on about the superiority of LPs over CD (I don’t care if you like LPs better, that is subjective. But LP/wax is an inferior medium, (I stress MEDIUM) that is not subjective, that is a fact.)

Talk about lossy system, LP is the original lossy system. It can’t handle the highs or the lows that CDs can, so has to be mastered in this very midrange sweet spot. Which is fine, in that midrange, if you’re good with that, and that sounds ‘warmer’ to you than a   CD, whatever. In the midrange if mastered right it can be perfectly fine. But one thing you lose in addition to those highs and those lows, that get clipped on wax, you lose the ability to reproduce the listening experience.

By that I mean, if you play a CD the first time, or the 500th time, and the hardware, the cd player, the speakers, amp, being the same; the quality of that recording will be the same as the first time you listened to it. That listening experience is reproducible.

Not so with wax/lps, like vhs tape or cassette tape, the LP playing experience is one of degradation. Everytime you play the medium, your start wearing it down minutely, and evertime you play it (though no one wants to think of it) it sounds worse than the previous time, because you are scraping into that signal, that medium.

I come from the analog generation, I played records, and vhs tapes, and cassettes until the quality noticeably started grinding down. And it didn’t then, and it doesn’t now, take too many plays, for that quality to start noticeably degrading.

So I have an experience with LPs and Cassettes, and in its time it was great, and it is still something to be said about large beautiful album covers and liner notes, the tactile process of it. But don’t confuse immediacy, with sound quality. And that immediacy doesn’t outweight the glaring flaws and problems with wax, in terms of sound quality, albums always getting futz on it,needles getting futz, the threat of warping, pops and cracles appearing out of nowhere.

We loved LPs because it was the best we had. But it was always a bit of a chore as anyone can tell you who grew up with them.

And I am not an LP hater. I think it has a place , and I still get the occassional LP, but generally these are recordings only available as LPs, or were mastered direct to wax.

The former being a lot of Quincy Jones stellar 60s and 70s avant garde film soundtracks such as the seminal IN COLD BLOOD. As far as the latter, I’m a purchaser and supporter of Jack White’s THIRD MAN RECORDS. This label goes to the stunning step of recording performances live and pressing directly to vinyl. You stilll lose some highs and lows when recording to wax, but in that midrange you get something very unique and original, you get a live concert experience unmoderated by overproducing.  That”s something very unique, and while I don’t see anything particularly superior in the sound, this at least has validity as something distinct from the CD. Unlike others taking tracks mastered for  a CDs range and just chopping off the highs and lows and slapping that on vinyl.

Vinyll can be great for these very unique niche projects. But as as additive to what should be a strong and healthy and forward looking digital market. To include CD and DVD and and SACD market.

It shouldn’t be this very cannibalizing either or scenario, in which music and choice….and the consumer… loses.

So when LD, CD, DVD came on the horizon it was then, and is now, a revolution, because suddenly you have something  you can buy that will rather than lasting 25 listens or views , if you are very careful and meticulous in keeping it cleaned and dust free,  before quality suffers, you have something that will keep its pristine quality, with just normal care for a minimum of 25 years. Not 25 listens like an LP… TWENTY FIVE YEARS! Minimum.

Now add greater dynamic range, larger capacity, and vastly increased lifespan and you have a medium,The CD/DVD, that by any definition is superior. And is by any measure the greatest boon to the video and audio consumer since the advent of recorded sound.

Now if a new generation gets sold on mp3 CDs and mp3 streaming and some badly mastered cds (and LPs can be equally badly mastered, any medium will have those who use it well and poorly. The difference being we have not yet exhausted the limits of how far we can take the CD and DVD and SACD. We are abandoning those formats before wecreach their limits. In favor of going backward to a medium, wax, whose limitations were always a source of frustration to audiophiles and engineers), and this young generation is bamboozled into writing off the most astounding and groundbreaking medium produced in the 20th century and goes backward to the flawed and not copyable ,and needing replaced often, analog medium, then who benefits?

I’ll tell you who… The RIAA and the music companies, who always viewed Digital with fear for the freedom it brought the consumer.

I tell you this new generation is giving away the baby with the bath water. Privacy, oh who needs that, put everything on facebook. Put surveillance systems in the guise of game consoles, and music players and smart devices in our homes.

Here’s the thing about smart devices and trusted computing, its about the companies being able to trust you, and not the other way around.

Conglomerates, are the ones benefiting from DVDs and CDs removed from the consumer and the return to records.This creates a model where the consumer owns music or video only on flawed, finite, non high-quality medium, and must go to the content provider for anything superior.

It is not only politically and morally and spiritually that America is devolving as a nation, but also in terms of technology.

 

My response… don’t let it.

Don’t buy the marketing and allow your rights to the future, be swept away by someone selling you the past. Continue to support full spectrum DVD, CD, and BluRay. And more than that let us continue to innovate, if people like the large LP format, lets give it to them, but in the superior medium.

I was a huge fan of Laser Disc, which works very much like a record, but using a superior medium, and a laser pickup instead of the horrible wax and needle medium.

Lets offer that as the 21st century version of records, to those who want Analog playback but with the benefits of digital transport/reproduction. That is a record I could get behind. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

p.s. And avoid youtube morons attempting to review speakers and amps by just playing music (uh, moron, if I could hear the quality of your system just by listening on my system… they would call that magic. How do you not realize that?)

This is the lack of common sense mentality  that has idiots ditching CDs for flawed LPs, and spending thousands to try and make those LPs reach a dynmaic range, that is beyond them.

 

Okay here endeth my rant!

 

AMAZON PRIME Deals/Buys/Gift Ideas of the Day : BLUE MoFi HEADPHONES!

My obsessions, like most tech and toy intrigued guys… goes in phases. This particular week audio is dominating my interest.

I’ve spent over a hundred hours determining signal from noise, and great purchases, from fraudulent stacked reviews. Which unfortunately Amazon is full of.  Lots of those 4 and 5 star reviews, are caused by disreputable companies flooding amazon with bogus reviews.

Well kids I’ve done the hard-work and heavy lifting to determine real from fake reviews, and great products from garbage.

Without further ado, this weeks items worth buying.

HEADPHONES:

Blue Mo-Fi Powered High-Fidelity Headphones with Integrated Audiophile Amplifier

“In short, the Mo-Fis easily produce the best quality sound of any headphones I’ve used.” —Engadget

From a stateside company called BLUE that has a great reputation in the microphone/podcasting community., comes their first Headphone… THE MOFI.

The real reviews are in on both Amazon and Youtube, and the verdict is… these are game changers. Particularly if you are looking into getting into high quality personal audio, and don’t currently want to spend the money for a dedicated amp or receiver, these MoFi’s allow you to take the sound direct out of your CD or LP or Laptop or Media Player, and for a reasonable cost get a high quality headphone AND Amp in one package.

It is a definite WANT.  Though at $399 its original retail, I felt it was definitely pricey. However even at that price it is not unreasonable given the new ground it is breaking, a kind of all in one entry level rig, for those who want great headphone sound without having to deal with the hassle of selecting a dac/preamp, than a microphone amp, then a pair of speakers.

This one purchase, if you don’t already have a system,  and don’t really want multiple components just to listen to a headphone,  well than it is a VERY reasonable and enticing purchase at its original retail.

But while reasonable, I couldn’t pull the trigger on it at that price. However, Fast forward 6 months later and the MOFI is now on sale for $279 (Blue having released their new models the SADIE(A $399 powered headphone with built in amp, that basically just loses a bit of the weight and the clamping of the MOFI, but sound-wise is similar. From all reports negligibe difference over the MOFIs) and the ELLA (A $700 Planar Headphone with built in amp).

So the arrival of the new models, means we can now get the MOFI for over $120 off, bringing it down to a very doable $279. Now at that price for a combo high quality headphone and amplifier, it is a no-brainer of  a purchase. And if you are willing to purchase used, you can get it even cheaper.

You can price and order it here:

 

Blue Mo-Fi Powered High-Fidelity Headphones with Integrated Audiophile Amplifier

And if you are the type who has to have the latest and greatest, and money is no object, then the $700 ELLAS are waiting for you here:

Blue Ella Planar Magnetic Headphones with Built-In Audiophile Amp

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61EG8uRKDUL._SL1500_.jpg

VOD Streaming Amazon Prime Movie Review – Larry Fessenden’s WENDIGO

 

Written, Directed and Edited by Larry Fessenden, WENDIGO (2001) is a very unusual movie, in that it feels very full of portent, out of control, and uneasy. Most of all uneasy. The title would have you gearing up for something else, but what you ultimately get is something thst is less and more, something subtle, yet forboding.

It will leave you, depending on the type of person you are when you come to it, both enthralled by the story, and leary of following the story to its conclusion.

Go into this 17 year old film ( hard to believe 2001 is almost 17 years ago)  knowing as little as possible, nothing beyond the title, don’t even watch the trailer, and it will reward you with a film that will linger, long after the credits roll.

A recommended film. Grade B+.