Introducing VB-Audio’s Spectralissime

It’s been said that, “You can’t manage what can’t be measured.” While this idea is most generally true, it’s definitely true with respect to various types of signal systems. Throughout my career I’ve focused on audio and video production, so I find myself drawn to new tools in that space.

A couple of years ago I discovered Vincent Burel’s VB-Audio software. His Virtual Audio Cables, VoiceMeeter, and later VoiceMeeter Banana, have fundamentally changed how I handle sound on my computers.

A short while ago he released a new software package called “Spectralissime.” This program is a real-time audio analyzer (RTA.)

RTAs are used to evaluate the spectral makeup of a sound. That is, they create a visual representation of the loudness (Y axis) vs the frequency (pitch) along the X-axis.

RTA’s are profoundly useful. In the most simple case, I’ve used them to evaluate a signal path for HDVoice capability. I’d send a white noise tone across a SIP link between two soft phones, comparing the the result against the original tone.

A more common use would be to setup a music playback system. It would help you to balance the low, mid- and high-frequency playback elements. They’re routinely used to analyze the acoustics of a room for unwanted resonances.

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The Big Blue Yeti, Soft Phones & Audio Sample Rate

dialpad-windows-desktop-yetiA short while ago friend and telecom luminary Dave Michels contacted me about a problem he was encountering with his Blue Yeti USB microphone. While he appreciates the benefits of a headset, he prefers to not use one when there’s video involved.

Dave uses the Yeti when recording videos and participating in various UC podcasts. He’s recently started to use it with the Dialpad soft phone. That’s the service that provides his home & office phones.

The Yeti is a fine microphone for many purposes. The combination of USB convenience, handy level controls and low-latency monitoring makes it an excellent choice for podcasters. I recently wrote a blog post for ZipDX that describes its use by a professional interpreter in the UK.

In Dave’s case, when using the Yeti with Dailpad others on the call would complain that his volume was very low. So much so that he was forced to switch to his Plantronics Savi headset. They also complained that “he sounded bad.”

To solve these problems the two of us set about a quick investigation. What we found is potentially useful, so I’m sharing it here with y’all.
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Deal Alert: Etymotic HF5 In-Ear-Monitors just $99

A set of Etymotic HF5 in-ear-monitors have graced my computer bag for the past few years. They are positively my favorite noise reducing headphones. The reasons are very simple; they reliably achieve a good seal in the ear canal, delivering relief from noisy surrounds. Further, they sound amazing.

Etymotic HF5 KitEtymotic headsets are based on a balanced armature design. Coming from an audiological background, this design is characterized by accurate reproduction. They’re notable for fast, crystalline mid- and high-frequency response.

I am told that some people may find the bass response lacking. Although, to my ears they sound awesome. The fact that they seal reliably ensures that the bass is fast and tight. There’s no sloppy boom-boom-boom here.

If you treasure both quiet and musical accuracy click on over to Massdrop who is offering HF5’s for $99 if a group of 10 people are interested. That’s down from MSRP of $149, while Amazon Prime has them for around $110.

P.S. – The HF5 are the model without a microphone, so they’re more about the iPod than the iPhone. You don’t need any pesky phone calls interrupting your groove anyway, right?

1More: My New Best Buds..Maybe.

1More Triple Driver EarphonesI’ve long been, and to this day remain a fan of the Etymotic Research line of earphones. In fact, I had three product generations from them. Most recently their HF5’s which remain my favorite noise reducing earphones. That said, in recent times I don’t find myself in need of noise reducing earphones as much as in the past. After 20 years of routine business travel, in 2013 I gave up my relationship with the airlines in favor of a continuous home life.

So when my current set of HF5’s started looking a little worn out it I occurred to me that I could try something new and different. That was about a year ago. While I was curious about some of the multi-driver Shure IEMs their >$300 price point put them out of reach.

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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.

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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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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