Signal-to-Noise: Some Thoughts About Unboxing

unboxThe internet is for cat videos. It’s true. Well, it’s largely true. I’d say that unboxing videos rank right up there with cats. YouTube reports that it has 41.5 million unboxing videos! I admit that I simply don’t understand the phenomenon of unboxing videos.

You’ve never seen an unboxing video hereabouts. I could certainly do them, we have the tools, but I don’t think they deliver any value. I can see no reason to share what is actually a pretty commonplace activity.

If you wanted to know what was in the box, being a thinking person, you’d research the manufacturer’s web site, or perhaps check with a reseller. What’s in the box is usually easily determined. It yields little insight into the product.

I suppose it’s easy to do, and garners some attention for those who make the effort. What do you think? Are unboxing videos useful? Or below the noise floor?

Cats like boxes. I suppose that might be why there are so many unboxing videos online. There are even videos of cats in boxes. Ours would not pose for me.

BoomStick or BoomSchtick?

It’s Monday as I begin to set these bytes in order, so I may be predisposed to be extra crotchety.  Consider yourselves warned.

Today’s news dump was largely unremarkable, with a singular exception thus far; Mashable’s Lance Ulanoff penned a sort of mini-review of an audio enhancement gadget called the BoomStick.


Various aspects of the this piece cause me concern. It’s basically hollow. For example, the author offers:

“According to the manufacturers, it can enhance virtually any audio source with a built an advanced digital signal processor (ADSP) that includes psychoacoustic base adjustment, spatial enhancement and high-frequency contouring. They all combine to, BoomCloud 360 claims, reveal latent audio qualities — things that can get masked in a sound mix. “

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Logitech Launches A New Webcam: C925e

As more and more people make use of video, whether via Blab, Blue Jeans, Hangout, Skype or Zoom, webcams have been continually increasing in importance. Yet the competitive landscape for webcams has been relatively unchanged in recent years. However, there has recently been some movement that sleepiest corner of technology as Logitech this week announced the Logitech C925e Webcam.


The family of Logitech webcams can be confusing. Logitech’s own web site and marketing language make it difficult to differentiate the various models. Given my rambling exploration of webcams I have a handful of them hereabouts, which leaves me potentially well-positioned to help explain where the C925e fits.

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Prescribing Shiit for an ailing Squeezebox

Shiit Modi 2 Uber & SB3Aged though they may be, we continue to enjoy our little fleet of Logitech Squeezebox music players. Sadly, as they age one common problem is the failure of the analog outputs.

The analog output has an electrolytic capacitor on each channel. As they age they dramatically change their electrical behavior. In our case the output level of one or both channels falls off dramatically. This fault has now befallen three of our five SB3s.

The faulty analog outputs can be overcome is a few ways. One of the easiest, albeit not the cheapest, is to leverage on of the digital outputs, adding an external digital-to-analog convertor (in audio-geek-speak, an external DAC.)

Late last year I found a Shiit Audio Modi 2 Uber DAC under the Christmas tree. This little box is not especially expensive, yet seems well regarded. It’s derived from the very well-regarded* Bifrost model, which is considerably more expensive.

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T-Mobile Moves Beyond HDVoice

T-Mobile Nexus5 EVSI’ve been a T-Mobile customer for a long time. In fact, my transition to T-Mobile happened when I bought my first smart phone, a Blackberry 8100 (aka Pearl).

More recently I’ve been using an LG-made Nexus 5. No, not the newer 5X. Late last year I semi-regressed from a One+ One to a Nexus 5. One of the reasons for that step backward in time was to finally be able to enjoy mobile HDVoice calls to my wife, who also carries a Nexus 5.

T-Mobile, who lead the US in the rollout of mobile HDVoice, supports it’s use for in-network calls between a list of supported handsets, including the Nexus 5. That initial rollout of HDVoice came before the big build of their LTE network. They enabled the AMR-WB codec (aka G.722.2) over their existing 3G HSPA+ network.

Most other US carriers waited until their LTE rollout to launch HDVoice. An LTE network is natively an IP network, readily supporting advanced voice codecs and video. When the voice calls are handled over the LTE network it’s called Voice-Over-LTE or VoLTE, which is very different from how voice was handled on 3G networks.

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….and then there were four. Conference Phones.

Phoenix Audio Spider MT505 360pxHaving recently made it known that a spate of conference phone’s were being considered hereabouts another company has asked for an opportunity in that gladiatorial exercise. So it is that a Phoenix Audio Spider (MT505) has entered the fray.

I guess that I’d better get down to business before someone else knocks on the door and the task grows even larger. This effort will not be comparative. Each device will be considered individually.