11-06-07 - 1

So I've ripped all my CD's and I'm finally listening to music via mp3. 68GB in 12775 files. Despite what the scientists claim, I can *totally* hear the difference in sound quality between a CD and a 320kbps mp3. With the mp3 there's this horrible sound of whirring and air that seems to always be in the background of every song. (that's a joke, btw)

Back when I used to work on 3d stuff and I would crash my machine every 30 minutes, I though the idea of playing music on my computer was totally retarded. The #1 most important time for me to have music is when the machine is rebooting, as the music soothes the savage beast and keeps me from totally losing it after the fucking driver and 3d crashed me once again. Now that I rarely crash I still think it's moderately retarded.

When I got the amp back I went fishing for some tracks that really sound beautiful on the old stereo.

Radiohead - on OK Computer - tracks 2 and 3 - but just the instrumental intros, those sound great on any system but on a clear analog system with separation they're just delicious.

U2 - a lot of stuff on Joshua Tree sound great.

Timbuk 3 - Big Shot in the Dark - especially track 1, but the whole album has a really great sound, lots of space, but also really wet.

Bjork - on Homogenic - especially Bachelorette but also Hunter. I bet these sound amazing on anything.

Sufjan Stevens - not really something that sounds "amazing" cuz his music isn't really beautiful to begin with, but sounds incredibly different and much better. The layer really come apart and surround you. Actually this is one album that would be really awesome to have in 5.1 surround, or to listen to at Audium or something. I'd love to see like Beirut and Sufjan do pieces for Audium.

The standard thing that stereo stores use to show off an analog stereo kit is acoustic classic rock, especially live recordings. Yeah, it works. The Eagles and Buffalo Springfield actually sound good and you can forget how overplayed the songs are. Supposedly part of the reason these sound so good is they were mastering for vinyl back then, and doing some things differently, I dunno what exactly. I hear that today they actually master with headphones/digital use in mind which means a lot of albums have "crosstalk" intentionally built in which is super lame.

BTW that reminds me, headphones should be cross-mixing the left and right channels somewhat, the extreme seperation you get is totally wrong and evil. I guess there are some iPod mods that do this and call it "Crossfeed", or there's the BitHead AirHead which is a bizarro hardware device to do the same thing. Apparently most headphones have quite a large amount of undesired "Crosstalk" which bleeds the channels, but that's not really desirable because it's not got the right offset/phase, and since it's inductive I assume it's also low-passed. I guess more generally rather than just mixing L & R you should do some of that 3D HRTF stuff to simulate the sound is affected by your head. eg. what you actually play in your ears (via the headphones) should not be the same L & R that you play at speakers, they should be convolved by the operation of the sound travelling from theoretical ideal speakers at ideal locations through the air and to your ear holes. So far as I know, none of the standard audio apps actually do this even though headphone listening has become extremely common. I guess part of the problem now is that people are mixing for headphones, so if you apply the convolution it's like you're doing it twice. Mixing should've been standardized to an ideal speaker listening environment, and then any modification of that should've been done at playback time, where the player can know the geometry of their actual setup. Obviously people have had these ideas before. I just randomly found this cool and bizarre thing - the Smyth Virtual Surround Technology that converts surround sound to head phones and does all the HRTF measurement junk. Anyway, this is getting overcomplicated; just doing a simple LR mix is super easy and it's just retarded that the iPod doesn't do it by default; songs like Bjork's Hunter that does extreme LR stuff sound really great on a proper stereo but just sound like awful garbage on unmixed headphones.

Oh, of course if you want to go even more nuts, ideally every instrument would be recorded with positioning info, and then on playback you could choose where your listener is. That way you could put the music "on a stage" (which is what a standard stereo does), or you can put yourself right in the middle of the stage, which is sort of like what plain headphone playback does, or you could pick anywhere in between, or even something different like putting yourself 5 feet above the band or whatever you want.

Okay now I'm really stalling trying to avoid doing some work.

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old rants