Archive for the ‘AV’ Category

Vibration Isolation Cones and Audiophile Gear

June 8, 2009 Leave a comment

As many of my readers know, I was lucky enough to have been given a then ¥450,000 Denon DVD-5910 <<link to specs here>> by Denon for my part in troubleshooting some serious playback quality issues in the DVD-A1 (5800), their previous top of the range player.

So I guess I can claim to know a bit about this kind of thing and don’t want to suddenly come off sounding ignorant. Well, here goes then…

<takes a deep breath>

Well, considering that the 5910 had been designed like a Sherman Tank, used practically the finest components known to mankind and then tweaked to eek the very last drops of detail from the disks (or so readers of this forum will gladly tell us) could you explain how a few little cones help to the extent that they cause a humanly audible difference? And if they do, why Denon didn’t incorporate a similar feature into its design, considering the 5910 was long the flagship, no holds barred player of choice for the discerning video-AND-audiophile.

I’m extremely curious as to how a little vibration management can “really enhance the already stellar performance” of a $4000 player that is to all intents and purposes, considering its construction, unlikely to suffer unduly from day to day vibrations of any kind besides those caused by a warped or damaged disc or a disc with a label stuck to one edge, or a small earthquake.

Of course, if one lives by a motorway, vibrations might be enough to affect one’s player… in which case the sound of the cars would all but drown out anything below 24 db or so in any case, making such an investment all but pointless.

I’m really sorry to sound sceptical, but I had friends who used to spray antistatic wax on their cables and made similar “really enhances XYZ” or the classic “tightens the bass/focus/pants” line.

One day, fed up with their constant “tweking”, when they were out, I cleaned the wax off the cables with some rubbing alcohol, but of course they continued to boast about the improvements when their mates came round. Not only that, but I had reversed the polarity of one of the back corner surround speakers, just for a laugh. And until the day I left, it stayed wired that way, unnoticed.

Obviously, in the days of valves, when the filaments could be excited by external vibrations, any isolation was bound to help, even more so with a turntable (which I demonstrated once by placing the needle on the receiver of a phone during a conversation and having a muffled version of the conversation relayed through speakers.

But come on, seriously, modern electronics being affected by vibrations to the point where the vibrations affect the device audibly more than the vibrations raise the sound floor of the room itself?

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a man who understands the value of floor to ceiling curtains, a thick carpet and a rather uncool, but audiophile tiled ceiling.

I also understand the importance of solid speaker stands, relative speaker distance and especially, of course, sub woofer placement.

I can also vouch for the efficacy of the auto calibration of a number of highish end amps.

But I don’t ever want to see a monster TOSLINK cable, or for that matter a 25% silver digital interconnect costing $1000 connected to a modern digital buffer with full ECC. I don’t want the smell of cable-antistatic spray in my room… And I do not ever, ever want to see another green rimmed CD in my freezer ever, ever again, Paul, do you hear me 😉 !

sorry… I’ll… erm… I guess I’ll be going then…

<<grabs his coat and shuffles out of the building quietly by the back door>>

Three Years of Searching Over

August 5, 2007 Leave a comment

I cycled into Akihabara for the first time in… I’ll have to check my blog… a long time, anyway. I was on my way home and was cycling past a second hand hifi shop when I got the strangest feeling…
I immediately remembered what had happened to me in Sapporo with a CD I’d been searching for for three years and getting a tingly feeling when I walked past a second hand CD shop, so I parked the bike and dashed in in anticipation.

Bang! There it was, sitting on the shelf waiting, the B&W HTM2 centre speaker I’d given up looking for about three years ago!

B&W HTM4S (old HTM2).

Now that’s just freaky – 3 years of searching, over.

Categories: AV, Strange Tags: ,

Sony SO903i G3 (NTT FOMA) Music Phone

March 1, 2007 Leave a comment

Sony Ericsson\'s excellent SO903i 3G Mobile

I’m fortunate enough to now own a 3G Sony Ericson SO903i music player phone with a 2Gb mini SD card. It’s without a doubt, the finest phones I’ve ever owned – even when considering the usability drag-factor introduced by Sony’s tiresome SonicStage 4.3!

Sony Ericsson\'s excellent SO903i

However, two things are preventing me from making the most of it.

1) SonicStage 4.3 Music Management Software interface

This software is a bit of a dog. One can’t just drop files onto the memory card to play them and expect the meta data and CD jackets to appear. One has to use the management software to move the files and create the metadata database.

2) Doesn’t play Variable Bit Rate MP3

I searched hard to find a phone which handled MP3 and MP4 AAC files and found this one. It showed itself to be a fully featured music player, accepting 2Gb of SD on top of its 1Gb internal storage. Functionally, it appeared on par with mid range Sony offerings with the same interface and most of the features. Which I thought was unusual for Sony, since they never off It was just what I was looking for.

Thus I was thus seriously disappointed to find out that it cannot handle Variable Bit Rate (VBR) MP3 files! This fact makes the whole point of MP3 handling moot, since the vast majority of MP3 files are VBR!

IO Data back for a reflash

November 3, 2006 Leave a comment

IO DATA - AVLP2 DVD Media Player

My Network Media Player went back to the manufacturer last week. It had started playing up, or rather was not able to play at all. It was unable to play most of the discs I’d made without jumping towards the end. These jumps and skips had gradually got worse and worse until the unit was basically unusable.

It came back with a note attached:

Although we were unable to find a defect with the player, we have replaced the entire unit just in case.

Now, I know Japanese companies give good service, but to replace an entire unit when a part may or may not be playing up seems like a bit of an overkill to me as most companies I’ve had dealing with won’t give in without a fight! So, all credit to IODATA for replacing it, no questions asked… Let’s hope it was a problem with the last player rather than a “design feature”

Even if the whole affair smacks of a covered up recall!

Categories: AV Tags: , , ,

My first HD video camcorder

September 17, 2006 Leave a comment

Strangely, even though I enjoy video editing and creating DVDs and streaming video for the internet, like the ones I made for my last job, and even though I love cameras themeselves and taking photos with them, I’ve never really been interested in video cameras.

I’ve borrowed some when needed and used several excellent cameras over the last five or six years for work, but they’ve never grabbed my attention or imagination much beyond their functional use to solve a purpose.

I think it’s probably because anyone with a little imagination, practice and reasonable gear can create photos which wouldn’t embarrass themselves if hung up in public. Granted only a few people have what it take to have their photos shown in National Geographic, but generally, a child with a half decent camera and a little flair can create excellent images. I know this because a former student of mine took such beautiful images with her mobile telephone camera without any formal training whatsoever.

Perhaps it’s the medium itself, which leaves so much to the imagination of the viewer rather than being explicit in every detail that makes exposure to amature photos for an hour so much less excruciating than watching a holiday video of the same length taken by the same person.

Or perhaps its that with TV and films, the exposure we have to high quality cinematography is so much greater than that of high quality photography, which these days seems to be limited to environmental destruction and wars (and… ahem… porno) that our senses of taste are more critical when it comes to the silver screen than silver dyed paper.

In any case, we bought our first video camera to take a few vids of Julia as she’s growing up. With the plethora of small cameras on the market not to mention the straight to hard disk and straight to DVD cameras, making a choice was quite difficult.

But in the end I decided to plunk for the lard and forgo all the convenience options in favour of out and out image quality by buying a Hight Definition unit.

Categories: AV

Wires: The bane of my hi-tech life!

November 26, 2005 Leave a comment

During the refurbishing, I changed the plans for the lounge and ordered a duct put in behind the all the skirting boards to hide all the wires for my HiFi. Originally, the duct was made for only a few wires, but I’ve managed to squeeze the following wires in:

  • D-tanshi component cable
  • S-video cable
  • Audio cable for subwoofer
  • 2 x Denon 5sq speaker cables (fronts)
  • 1 x Denon 5sq speaker cable (center)
  • 2 x Denon 3sq speaker cables (rears)

My sizeable rack HiFi is stored in the main closet in the lounge, which is great because when the doors are closed, the whole thing is completely hidden from view.

The carpenter drilled a hole through from the inside of the cabinet to the duct on the other side of the wall. However, although the duct itself is quite spacious and would accomodate a fair number of extra wires, the hole was much more restricted.

I had to do a fair bit of drilling to widen the hole from the inside of the cabinet to the duct. But once that was done, everything proceded smoothly.

Now, the only exposed wires are those which run from small, strategically located holes in the skirting board to the components.

Categories: AV, House Tags: , ,

DVD-A1XV Kicks Some Serious Arse

November 23, 2005 Leave a comment

Denon DVD A1XV

So, I’ve got my new Denon DVD-A1XV DVD player set up. I can’t believe that this thing has a list price of $4500. All that money, and it doesn’t even record.

It may be playback only, but, wow! What playback. I’ve got it running using a long “D-tanshi” component video cable which is running through the skirtingboards and out to the projector. and although the projector is high definition (HD), the current signal from this player is limited to standard definition in order to satisfy the strict rules and regulations (anti piracy rules) dictating video transmission.

Categories: AV Tags: , ,