Perfection Seeks Flaws

Just got through reading a pretty good article about ‘warmth’ in audio recordings and what it means.

Basically, circuits are noisy, don’t give you the exact output you expect, and we’ve had to deal with it for so long that we’ve become accustomed to it and consider it a sign of good sound. This line stuck out at me

I wonder if in a parallel universe digital had preceded analog (somehow) would we be writing of ways to reduce warmth in our gear? If over decades of listening to clean digital recordings would we shudder at the sound of THD?

THD is Total Harmonic Distortion, or the way the circuitry bobbles the sound along the way, adding harmonics.

100% digital recordings have often been called ‘cold’, often by people who couldn’t tell the difference between an ice cube and a red hot charcoal briquette, but I digress. A computer is also subject to noise, but as long as it stays within range, a 0.00000001 will still be a 0 and a .99999999 will still be a 1. Thus a computer will output the exact same sound over & over with the only distortion being added by the final output chain of analog equipment (the DAC, soldered connections, plug, wires, circuitry in the speakers, etc.)

When sound engineers first started out, they couldn’t capture the same sound they heard because the primitive equipment added so much noise & distortion. Just listen to any early recording & you’ll hear the hiss, crackle, and the tinny sound.

Over the years, engineers fought & fought these limitations, constantly improving their equipment to eventually get rid of more & more THD. This ‘warmth’ we so crave in our current sound was garbage to the early pioneers who were trying to get rid of it! Well, to a point – at some point, that distortion became a particular ‘sound’ someone liked and started using to their advantage.  Wasn’t too long ago that to get a really distorted sound, you’d have to cut the speaker cone.

I have a bunch of audio software that emulates old systems. You can control the voltage going into the amp, the angle, distance and type of the microphone from the cabinet (even placing them behind!), the size of capacitors, etc. for Guitar Rig Pro from Native Instruments. They also have a Moog emulator called Monark that, upon starting, takes a bit before it’s in tune and will ‘drift’ as you play it.

Often the unpredictability was what gave these instruments their distinctive sound & why old models are often prized. Digitally, it’s technically feasible to simulate every last bit of them, but even me, Mr. “I can do everything I need In The Box (ITB)” understands that sometimes, it’s just easier & more expressive to turn a dial or push a slider and just get whatever the instrument hands me.

Oh, this isn’t strictly related to audio. When I did 3D modeling, the first thing you learned that anything perfect looked fake. You had to add scratches, dents, dirt, or any number of imperfections to make something look realistic.

Just an interesting article that piqued my interest.

posted by Robb Allen @ 11/5/2014 7:57:21 PM | Feedback (8)
Please attend Norman V. State

If you can, please show up for the oral arguments.

Tomorrow is a very important day for gun owners across Florida. At 10 am, the 4th Florida District Court of Appeal will hear oral arguments on Norman v. State. This case asks the fundamental question - how does one exercise the right to bear arms in Florida? Do we, in fact, have that right in the Sunshine State where the Concealed Carry license is granted as only a privilege?

We urge you to take take some time from your day to support the Second Amendment by attending the oral arguments in person. The session should last only about an hour. Florida Carry believes that a strong presence in the courtroom will be beneficial in conveying to the court that there is public support for a favorable ruling. If you are able, please attend. Courtroom appropriate attire is requested, and remember, courtrooms are prohibited places for carry of firearms or other weapons.

posted by Robb Allen @ 11/5/2014 12:59:58 PM | Feedback (0)
If all you did today is vote, it didn’t count

My vote today will count for very little. I put no effort into trying to win people over to a particular candidate. I didn’t hound the current crop of candidates for their positions nor did I work hard on getting them to accept a particular view.

Voting means jack shit unless you’ve actually put effort into the process. Just showing up and putting a mark next to the ‘right name’ a constitutionally limited republic does not make.

I get to pick between voting for Rick Scott, a corporate cronyism champion who happens to be excellent on guns, or Charlie “Spray Tan” Crist, who was a shitty Republican governor but now has changed from independent to Democrat. I can vote for Adriane Wiley who I’d prefer (although his insistence on using Executive Orders to make everything alright rubs me the wrong way), but then I’ll get Crist. All polls had Crist & Scott virtually tied and to be honest, Crist is all about gun control now that he’s a democrat, and I’d rather not see him in office. This is one of those times practicality is arguing with my ‘purity’.

There will be a lot of blank spots for positions I know nothing about. Should Juan McSmith be allowed to continue as a circuit judge? How the hell should I know? I’m not going to give people jobs based on my OCD thinking every bubble should be filled in.

There is one person I’ll give my vote for simply for their signs – Terry Kemple for school board. His signs are adorned with ‘STOP COMMON CORE’. Works for me.

Otherwise, I’ve done very little to make a big difference. I hate the Democrats & there are few independents out there to even vote for much less rally behind, so some Republicans will get my vote. They might retake the senate, but that doesn’t fill me with joy. They’re not called “The Stupid Party” for no reason and I’m sure they’ll fail to further the cause of freedom, just at a slower pace.

Yay democratic processes.

posted by Robb Allen @ 11/4/2014 11:32:01 AM | Feedback (9)
Evil lurks everywhere

I hesitate to write this article because I don’t want to appear to ‘blood dance’. This is not my intention.

In China, a guy stabs a child to death, injuring two others

Han Li, a propaganda official for Yiyang county, said Friday that a villager armed with a knife slashed the three children in Luojia village while they were returning home from school for the noon break.

What’s worse is this is becoming an issue

China has seen a string of attacks on children in recent years by culprits often identified as being mentally ill or angry at society. In September, a man fatally stabbed four students as they were walking to their elementary school in the southern province of Guangxi.

I’m not bringing this up to push for loosening gun laws. I’m bringing this up to show there are monsters amongst us who attack the weakest of us all. They kill / harm kids because it’s the most brutal crime most of us can imagine. It grabs headlines, it gets the killers’ names rolling across the Chyron, and making the crime even more horrific, it gives statists something else to demand the state control, regardless of if that control would have mattered. Most of all though, these killers know they’re safe to do their deeds and that resistance will be light if at all.

What bugs me the most is that people think that by making the teachers, school staff, and parents less capable of defending the children is the best way to protect the children. You can put up all the ‘no guns’ or ‘no knives’ signs you want, these monsters will walk right through them.

We need to stop focusing on the tool & instead focus on the monsters. Those known to be too dangerous to own [specific tool] since you know they will cause harm with it should be locked up, away from society. Don’t let them walk around and just hope a cash register will stop them from getting [specific tool]. It doesn’t work, never has worked, and will never work.

posted by Robb Allen @ 10/31/2014 11:59:16 AM | Feedback (6)

Rough 9 hour drive to SC. Then a day for the funeral & grieving with family. Then the rough 9 hour drive back today.

Red Bull barely helped.

posted by Robb Allen @ 10/30/2014 10:34:40 PM | Feedback (1)
Uncle Gene the the biscuit story

One of my favorite & longest lasting family stories was about my uncle Gene, my aunt Rosie’s husband. My dad would tell this story every chance he had.

Uncle Gene and my aunt got married well before I was born. Being a Southern Gentlemen, my uncle had requested of his new bride biscuits for dinner. For the non-southerner of my readers, biscuit making ability is a measure that southern men hold up to their women. So my aunt, who had never made biscuits before in her life prepared her husband the finest batch of biscuits she possibly could.

Uncle Gene told her that he had given one of the biscuits to the dog and that the dog had spent the rest of the night “licking its ass trying to get the taste out of it’s mouth.

Unless things had changed in the past few years, aunt Rosie had refused to ever make him biscuits again.

Yesterday my father called me. Uncle Gene was mowing the farm with his tractor. As he was mowing the edge around the pond as he had done countless other times, the tractor tipped over, trapping him underneath in shallow water. He had screamed for help and my Aunt had rushed to save him, trying to keep his head above the water. He didn’t make it.

While growing up, uncle Gene was a train engineer. He was gone at long stretches, so we didn’t see him often, but when we did he was always a warm, caring man with a funny streak a mile wide. I always loved seeing him as a child as I knew the night would be long with many a laugh.

The last time I saw Gene was about 11 years. Having a family of your own makes visiting other family, especially those in different states difficult. Then one day, they’re gone and you realize what difference a little bit of effort would have made.

Now, I’ll be making that trip I’ve avoided because ‘we’re just too busy’ out of a sad necessity.

I’ll miss you Uncle Gene. But I will remember the biscuit story for the rest of my life.

posted by Robb Allen @ 10/26/2014 10:54:54 AM | Feedback (11)