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Audio Music Technology Video

A Little Raspberry Pi

I’ve been watching to Mandolin.Com live stream shows during the live music quarantine. My old practice was to AirPlay from an iPad to the lounge AppleTV. I got tired of this (WiFi stalls next to the airport) and decided to eliminate the stuff in the middle. Raspberry Pi Foundation came to the rescue.

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Audio

A Maggie Face Plants

When I was purchasing the LRS, I was fearful that bull in china shop Rocky would knock one over causing the diaphragm to rupture. Well, the right one has face panted twice with no ill effects.

Rocky has also baptized the right one twice. The grill cloth proved resistant to staining and cleaned up using a microfiber cloth moistened with Skout’s Honor dog urine cleaner.

After the break, read my observations about placing Maggies.

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Audio Greyhounds Holiday Letter

Adios, 2020

Ahoy, all. Its been a crazy year. So far, I’ve missed the plague but my list of pre-existing conditions is getting longer. I hope the year finds you healthy and looking forward to a better 2021.

Tleilaxu Eyes

The year started off with cataract surgery. I now have Tleilaxu eyes and Warby Parker readers. It is nice having good distant vision and not needing glasses for most tasks. I have aspheric prosthetic lenses that correct my astigmatism. So fancy lenses and laser surgery Medicare wouldn’t pay for. The interesting bit is that laser incisions heal more quickly and have lower complication rates. Should be the standard of care CMS.

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Audio

Hope for Home Pod?

Featured image courtesy of Apple.

Apple dropped Home Pod squarely atop the steaming mess that is Apple Music. Which is sad because Home Pod is a decent little portable speaker with HiFi ambition in the mid range. Home Pod has a sweet voice, that is to say a flattering way with human vocals. Bass is bloated and limp in the C-3 region where most bassists play and highs don’t go all the way to the top of the cymbal region but in between, the sound is marvelous. Just the thing for casual listening.

Apple’s audio engineers did a wonderful job. So what’s the issue? Apple’s Apple Music ambitions and new gadgets get squarely in the way of the user experience offered by this wonderful product.

HomePod Survey followed critical feedback

A couple of days ago, I filed a thoughtful but critical feedback regarding Apple HomePod issues with the UI and connections. On Tuesday, a lengthy survey showed up in my Email. I responded in detail. HomePod is more than a music playback device. It provides user interfaces for home entertainment, home control, speaker phone and calls, and handles Apple Secure Video, a well conceived and trouble free product.

I hope this response indicates that Apple is serious about getting HomePod’s music playback right. The sound is great, the user experience is horrid. I’ll explain…

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Audio

LRS Comes for Good

Dismal Wizard used Aunt Nancy Pelosi’s CARES Act stimulus payment to purchase the Magnepan Magneplanar Little Ribbon Speakers shown flanking Rocky and Missy (in red). The Maggies (audiophile speak for any Magneplanar speaker) are merciless. Things that sound ordinary on box speakers sound gorgeous and things that sound impressive on box speakers can fall flat on the Maggies. It’s all about the coherency and dipole radiation pattern of Maggies. They respond differently to finished records that do box speakers.

In short, the Maggies seem not to like records that are heavily processed in production. Compression and reverb are evil. The end result is a flat, lifeless mess. More simply mixed records like singer songwriter fare and jazz present well, sometimes brilliantly.

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Audio

Aunt Nancy’s Gift Arrives

The Dismal Wizard, being retired with adequate savings, was not concerned that the wolf would be at the door in a few months so he spent his CARES Act income support where it would benefit fellow Americans. He bought a pair of Magneplanar Little Ribbon Speakers made in a small town in Minnesota. The LRS is a planar magnetic speaker about a foot wide and 4 feet tall. After the break, read about this magical panel speaker.

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Audio

Study System!

There’s no end of Schiit showing up during the pandemic. Gas money is ending up in music and inexpensive yet magical audio equipment. This weeks change was to move all the study bits to the “study rack” and get it working. After the break, we’ll look at what is in the rack.

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Audio

Mani Drops In

Yet more Schiit Audio has come to Dismal Manor. Jason Stoddard has designed a little integrated circuit phono preamp that is an incredibly musical and flexible device. Oh, and Schiit Audio sells Mani for the princely sum of $129. And it works. And its dead quiet. Not a hint of hum. That’s insane! It was in impulse purchase.

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Audio

Balanced Audio Connections

Schiit Audio Magnius back panel photo courtesy of Schiit Audio. The larger 3 pin sockets are the AES balanced input and output connectors.

As with other topics in audio, balanced audio connections are shrouded in myth and mystery. This article introduces some of the basics in a non-technical way. Reference [6] from Benchmark Media takes a more detailed look at pro verses home differential connections and some of the myths surrounding differential mode connections and amplifiers. Reference [8] also from Benchmark Media talks about differential headphone amplifiers.

Read Carefully and Be Careful What You Read

This is engineering, not politics. Alternative facts don’t exist, but fried equipment does. Miss-wiring an amplifier’s output stages can activate the protection or destroy the output stages. Transistors have a disconcerting ability to protect the output fuses of classic amplifiers. Modern amplifiers like Schiit Audio’s Vidar use electronic protection of the output stages. Be sure to follow amplifier user guide wiring instructions.

I’ve listed all of the references I used to create this article. I encourage you to at least read the Benchmark Media articles from their knowledge base. Benchmark’s audience is pro recording and mastering studios and the creatives who own and run them. Benchmark is all about getting its clients to put their money where it matters to build a high value mastering system that is clear and transparent until it needs to be colored to make judgements about how a mix will sound over typical audience playback systems.

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Audio

Schiit Audio Modius comes for good

Featured image courtesy of Schiit Audio for use in this commentary.

Some weeks ago, I wrote about the addition of Modius to the Dismal Manor’s Dismal HiFi. Modius is a digital to analog converter. In my system his primary duties are to make YouTube audio from the TV listenable and to play WHRV-FM streamed audio from a HiFiBerry Digi+ stream receiver. Modius does those jobs brilliantly. Neither is a high definition source so don’t merit a Gugnir channel. Multibit Gugnir (Gumby) is my primary music reproduction converter used for CD, Qobuz, and TIDAL playback.

Modius provides a significant improvement in TV sound and WHRV-FM sound over using the premap’s internal converter. American Public Media Live from Here rebroadcasts via Modius match Gumby in sound quality. Modius is consistently beating the WHRV-FM on air sound in spite of the low 128 kbps MP3 used.

Schiit Audio has done it again with a new $200 amplifier called Magnius that continues the value proposition in headphone amplifiers. This is an ideal amp for an office system or armchair listening position in the lounge. Modius and Magnius are intended to be a high value personal audio system. Magnius provides outputs for both balanced and single ended headphones at this price and has both balanced and single ended inputs. Modius can send a single ended signal to the HiFi and a balanced signal to a Magnius at chair side for individual listening in a shared listening space.

More after the break.