EMI Experimenting With DRM-Free MP3s

•December 7, 2006 • 1 Comment

You can read the article from Ars Technica here, but it seems the music industry realizes that consumers want control over their music…  whether they’re going to actually cede that or not is another question that remains to be seen.


Guitar Picks

•December 6, 2006 • 2 Comments

One of the tiny things that you might not think matter in playing guitar is pick selection. When I was just starting guitar (I started on acoustic steel-string) I played on whatever I had lying around, which generally meant the standard cellulose picks. They sound OK, but tend to break a lot, especially over time. After a while I got sick of my picks breaking and settled on Dunlop’s Nylon Standard picks. They proved to be much longer-lasting, but I really wasn’t satisfied with the sound I got out of them. They lacked the bite that better cellulose picks seemed to have. Plus in the end they wore down anyway.

I did find that I had one teardrop-shaped yellow Tortex pick (coincidentally also by Dunlop) that I did like and it lasted forever, but I lost it at some point and never thought much about it. In recent years, a few of my friends started using the red Tortex picks. I gave them a try, but hated them. They’re way too floppy for me, and I can’t get the kind of tone I want out of them, especially when doing more picking as opposed to strumming. By this time I had started playing electric guitar a reasonable amount too, so I needed something for picking single-note stuff. Still, the Tortex picks were definitely durable. They tended to get lost, disappear, or get “borrowed” (haha, you know it’s true) rather than wearing out or breaking. Soon after, I picked up some orange and yellow Tortex picks and they were much better. As I had remembered, but with the standard shape. The orange is slightly lighter which I like when doing more strumming on the acoustic. One annoying thing about Tortex picks though is that the printed black text smears almost immediately. Gets on your fingers. Small price to pay though.

At one point way back in high school, one of the guitarists I knew that I played with for a short stint introduced me to the Big Stubby line of picks. Guess who makes them. Hah, yeah, Dunlop. (I swear it’s coincidental!) Apparently I’m a Dunlop pick fanboy. Anyway, it was interesting (for electric, not acoustic). They are just as they sound–big fat picks that have virtually no give. Anyway, he gave me one or two, but I lost them after a while and didn’t use them much anyway since at that time I was just learning and really didn’t know how to do too much more than just strum chords. Just recently I decided to try them again, and I found that I really like them! Even for acoustic. Not for general strumming on the acoustic of course (though you can get away with it), but for single note picking stuff I really feel like it adds to the body of my tone. I haven’t used them that long yet, but I think I’ll be switching primarily to these for now. Hopefully they’re as durable as the Tortex picks.

Dynaudio BM5a Review

•December 6, 2006 • 8 Comments

Buy it at zZounds for $999.95/pair (Dec. 6, 2006)

Dynaudio BM5a Speakers

It’s been a long wait getting these speakers setup. OK, actually it’s only been a week or two, but it sure feels like a long time. First of course I had to wait for all my new equipment to arrive. The speakers themselves really didn’t take all that long and arrived earlier this week, but the cables and audio interface (Echo Layla3G, I’ll write more about it in another post some other day) took a little longer to arrive. I then found that the TRS plugs on my cables were too thick to fit into Layla3G one above the other which is necessary seeing as the outputs are linked in left/right pairs. Sigh. Anyway, I got around that by using unbalanced cables with smaller connectors to my mixer, and then outputting a balanced signal to the speakers. I am actually starting to feel like it’d be nice to have one of those control centers like the Mackie Big Knob Control Center, but it just seems like a lot of money just for essentially a mixer with a big volume control, so I think I’ll live with my mixer for now. Anyway, onto the review…

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New Thin Speaker

•December 5, 2006 • 1 Comment

Apparently Panasonic has a new super-thin speaker, read about it here. Probably most useful in a mobile applications like cellphones or PDAs.

Digital Guitars Are Here!

•December 5, 2006 • Leave a Comment

I remember hearing about the revolution of digital guitars a few years back and that Gibson was going to convert 100% to digital guitars or something of the like. I never really heard much about it after that though… till now! Take a look here, Gibson is finally coming out with their digital guitars, though it’s quite expensive ($4000). Don’t think I’ll pick one up quite yet… If you’re interested in this sort of thing you might also take a look at Line 6’s Variax lineup. Gibson’s looks way more polished, though really they’re quite a different product. Though both have digital outs, the Variax is a pure digital guitar with a focus on modelling where Gibson’s is more just a analog/digital guitar hybrid, where the focus is on… well, just being a guitar.


•December 4, 2006 • Leave a Comment

We just got new desktops at work this past week that happen to have the new(ish) SoundMAX audio chipset. It’s excellent quality, and is probably the best built-in audio I’ve ever heard. (I haven’t heard the nForce SurroundStorm chipset, so unfortunately I can’t compare with that well-regarded built-in chipset.) I have a pair of Sony MDR-V600’s that I use for casual listening, and in the past it’s always sounded mediocre at best. Now I wouldn’t say they sound amazing now, and I’m sure that part of it is that with these headphones I’ve been mostly listening off of laptops which tend not to power large headphones very well, but the sound is much crisper and more detailed than it was before. I haven’t bothered to do extensive tests (I’m working when I’m at work :)), but let’s just say it was an obvious enough difference that it surprised me immediately when I started listening.

Shure E4 Mini-Review

•December 4, 2006 • 1 Comment

Note: I now have a full review of the Shure E4 headphones up here.

Buy the Shure E4 at zZounds for $299.99 (Dec. 3, 2006)

Shure E4

Although not cheap, the Shure E4’s are a great set of in-ears. I use mine on a regular basis on stage as in-ear monitors. It blocks out stage noise quite well, and sounds great! These are also an excellent replacement for whatever earbuds came with your iPod or other digital audio player…

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