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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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Here’s why a headset remains the very best way engage on the phone, hangout, video chat, etc.

Whether in the board room, office, home office or car…using a good headset is how I ensure that I can both hear and be heard clearly! This has long been my habit, and if you wish to communicate effectively it’s a strategy that you should consider as well.

In the past I’ve described my rationale on various occasions, even offering recorded examples so you can hear the difference for yourself. I recently found the following nice image that illustrates exactly why a headset is the superior choice.

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On The Verge Of Misleading About Devialet

us-phantomThis morning I read an article by Dan Siefert on The Verge about Devialet licensing  the technology in their Phantom Bluetooth speaker. Rarely have I seen such a collection of errors make it to view by such a relatively mainstream media outlet.

For example:

“Sannié says that a system using SAM can reproduce lower frequencies without changing its hardware at all, and it can even enable noise-cancellation without the need for a subwoofer.”

There is no relationship at all established between “noise cancellation” and the requirement for a sub-woofer. Perhaps this was taken out of some larger context where that relationship was defined. Taken on it own this statement is bewildering. It implies something that, at least without clarification, has no basis in fact. Noise cancellation and sub-woofers are usually unrelated topics.

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My First Raspberry Pi Project: Using Hifi Berry DAC to Emulate A Squeezebox

RPI-HB-DACRCA-300pxSome time ago I received a Raspberry Pi B+ as a gift. It had been on my amazon wish list, and for good reason. It looked like one practical approach to emulating the venerable Logitech Squeezebox, which to this day serves as the basis for music playback hereabouts.

Since we were not expanding our music playback scheme there was at first little motivation to got ahead with this effort. That is, until the analog outputs of our existing fleet of Squeezeboxes started to fail. Eventually the analog outputs become unusable, the result of failing electrolytic capacitors. Three of our five SB3s now suffer this malady.

So, not long ago I set to the task of emulating a Squeezebox using a Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, a HiFiBerry DAC and a 4 GB micro-SD memory card. To this core I added a suitable case, a power-over-Ethernet splitter and piCorePlayer. All in, this rig cost under $100.

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Recommended Reading: 3D Sound Overview

3D Audio Overview PDFA long time ago, when I was still in school in Toronto, I became fascinated with an obscure form of surround sound recording known as Ambisonics. In researching a paper for school I became smitten by the approach conceived by English mathematician Michael Gerzon. It’s a truly elegant system, something beyond the commercially successful surround sound approaches that we all know.

I was especially impressed with the Cowboys Junkies 1988 album, The Trinity Session. It was recorded in a old church on King Street in Toronto, in a single day. The band played in this place with incredible acoustics, ringed around a single Calrec Soundfield microphone. The Soundfield microphone is the surround microphone design based upon the theory originally published by Michael Gerzon at Oxford University.

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Evaluating USB Headsets for Interpreters

This is admittedly a deep dive into a niche topic. It stems from work done for ZipDX, but is more technical than most audiences can stand. Nonetheless, those of you who frequent these waters may find it interesting.

plantronics-blackwire-c320-usb-headset.jpgWhy Do This?

One of the more fascinating aspects of my work at ZipDX involves the interpreters engaged in the use of our multilingual conference capability. These people, who are located all over the globe, are simply fascinating people. They have incredible skills with languages, and finely tuned sensitivity to the nuance of cross-cultural communication. It’s positively inspirational to hear them at work, and very gratifying to support them in their work.

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