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How to Configure iTunes for Optimal Sound Quality

With the proper set-up, a home computer system can offer quality audio for even the most picky listeners.

Audio purists often insist that that PC-based music isn’t good enough for their clients. But it can be.

iTunes interface

iTunes can provide an audiophile-grade experience if you follow these often-overlooked steps.

Choose Correct Import Format

One of the leading advocates in the field of computer-based sound systems is Steve Silberman, vice president of marketing for AudioQuest. He says a good place to start tuning your iTunes collection is by choosing the correct import format.

“If the encoder is set to AIFF and error correction is selected, then the ripped files will be 100 percent identical to what is on the compact discs. There seems to be an assumption that iTunes equals MP3 and nothing else. I think much of that has to do with the fact that Apple doesn’t do a very good of explaining iTune’s capability or an obvious link to the setup preferences anywhere. iTunes can handle files as large as 32 bit at 384khz sample rates.”

What Does ‘Invisible’ Sound Like?

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Invisible speakers have been around for a while. Although the new generation has far surpassed the original, the design principle and labor-intensive installation remain the same - a rectangular sandwich panel is mounted between wood frame studs and ‘mudded' into walls or ceilings. The speakers can be installed prior to the dry-wall phase during new construction or cut into existing walls. After the speaker is painted over during the wall finish stage, it cannot be detected. But you and your installer must remember where they are located, otherwise you might end up nailing a framed photo onto the surface!

 

The better invisible speakers offer larger panels, an expanded sound with a wider soundfield and greater front-to-back depth. We'd offer you a picture of an invisible speaker, but you wouldn't be able to see it. So you'll have to use your imagination. And remember, you have to really want invisible speakers - did we merntion multi-phase labor-intensive installation?

The photos included here are from Katsuya Restaurant located in Brentwood, CA. The requirement for invisibility was by architect, Phillippe Starck. The AV system design was performed by yours truly (a project of high-end custom installer Sound Solutions, inc.).

Read the "Home of the Future" case study included here to explore the sound of invisible:

 

To learn more about a various brands if invisible speakers, click here:  and here:
 

Must Read Special Report: The Art of Music Listening

January 11, 2011 By Robert Archer 3 comments
PDF Cover

Bob Archer explores the world of high performance audio in this special publication from Electronic House. Topics include the peaceful coexistence of analog music in the digital world, the rebirth of vinyl records, tube amps and pre-amps, audiophile ear-training and speaker placement. An interview with Bon Jovi’s Richie Sambora and a “how-to” guide to selecting the right equipment are also included.

EXCLUSIVE REPORT: LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE - RSL SPEAKERS RE-LAUNCH ON DEC.29 AFTER TWO DECADES

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Back in the 70's and 80's, Southern California audio fans were familiar with RSL Speaker Systems, sold at Rogersound Labs audio/video stores throughout the area. During those decades, RSL was one of the best selling brands in the region. The RSL Studio Monitors were a familiar sight in many of L.A.'s recording studios and radio stations and were owned by many of LA's top musicians. They still have a loyal following. RSL speakers stood for high quality and great sound at reasonable, factory-direct prices. "I am amazed by the number of emails I receive from owners who still are happy with their older RSL Speakers", says founder Howard Rodgers.
 
For the past 3 years, Howard Rodgers and his son Joseph have been developing a new line of home theater speakers and studio monitors based upon RSL's patented Compression Guide Technology. 
According to Rodgers, Compression Guide Technology is a different approach to speaker tuning, which dramatically increases the clarity of the voices and instruments as well as improving the soundstage (the company's slogan is, "Hear Outside the Box"). It also results in significant bass extension with less boominess and overhang. "There are dozens of really fine speaker brands available today. The world doesn't need another brand, unless it has something unique to offer. We will be offering speaker sound quality that we're certain will impress picky audiophiles, at prices much lower than those found currently in the audiophile market." Rodgers said.
 
RSL Speaker Systems will be offered exclusively through their website www.rslspeakers.com beginning December 29, 2010. All RSL speakers will come with a 30 day satisfaction money back guaranty. RSL will even pay shipping both ways so that customers will pay nothing to try them, if returned.
 
The initial RSL line will include a compact 2-way speaker designed to complement their new subwoofer, the RSL Speedwoofertm 10. The RSL Speedwoofertm 10 will feature wireless remote control of volume and crossover frequency. It is powered by a 375-watt pure analog Class A/B amplifier. Rodgers describes the bass as impactful with extreme clarity that doesn't intrude on the mid-range sound like most subwoofers.
 
The line will include a new RSL Studio Monitor, which can also perform as an ideal center channel when placed horizontally. All models will feature RSL's patented Compression Guide Technology and high-gloss black piano finished cabinets. Combinations of these models will be suitable for home theater as well as stereo installations.
In late January, the company will also be introducing in-wall and in-ceiling models which will acoustically match the other speakers in the line.
 
To learn more, click here for RSL's website:   LAUNCH DATE DECEMBER 29, 2010

Who’s the DJ?

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How has technology changed the way we listen to music?  Sasha Frere-Jones, of New Yorker magazine, discusses the impact of having more control over the music experience than the original artists in this article entitled "You, the DJ." Despite the advancements of the audio world, we still derive immense, spontaneous pleasure from hearing a favorite song pop up, courtesy of our server's "random play" feature - just like we do with radio. Says Frere-Jones, "Sometimes we will be the djs and sometimes the machines will be and we may be surprised by which we prefer." To read entire article, click here:

The Next Step in Movie Theater Technology: 3-D Sound

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Moviegoers: You may soon be able to experience the eerie whisper of a ghost in your right ear, the pitter-patter of rain pelting your umbrella or the whistle of bullets screeching past your face. "We want audience members to forget that they're in the theater so they can experience sound as close as possible to the real world," said Uwe Karbenk, chief executive of Iosono Inc., which develops and licenses 3-D audio systems . The system's unique feature is its ability to project audio anywhere inside the theater, giving the audience the illusion that sounds originate from right next to them. Everyone in the audience hears sound at the same volume, regardless of where they sit. The effect is created by using between 64 and 128 speakers and 32 audio channels, each of them controlled by a computer that can play back individual sounds at intervals. Iosono's technology already is used in various museums, planetariums and theme parks, including at the Haunted Mansion attraction at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.

 
Imagine standing in a tropical rain forest. As thick rain drops hit the ground, you hear a toucan a hundred feet ahead of you and a monkey crying somewhere to the left. Then, a large creature - perhaps a tiger? - slowly approaches out of the depths of the forest to the right, coming closer and closer until you can hear it breathing right in front of you. Finally, the beast walks on by. Sounds can appear to come from great distances, can be placed right next to any member of the audience or overhead. What's more, they can be made to move along any given path in the listening space.
 

Iosono has installed its system at two screens in the Mann Chinese theater complex in Hollywood. The company aims to roll out up to 50 screens this year and 200 screens by 2011. Although Iosono declined to reveal which movies would be shown in the new format, people familiar with the matter said Iosono would debut with Walt Disney's "Tron: Legacy," set for release Dec. 17. One hurdle Iosono faces is price. Some theater operators have already spent millions upgrading their theaters with new digital projectors and 3-D equipment. The new format has drawn praise from some influential directors, who have been frustrated because their movies rarely sound the way they intended when they reach theaters.

Theater operators are looking for new ways to make their cinemas stand apart from home entertainment, where big-screen, high-definition televisions and 9.2 sound systems have turned family rooms into miniature multiplexes. Although Hollywood.com reports box-office revenues through Oct. 10 reached $8.3 billion, an increase of 3.4% from the same period a year ago, actual theater attendance is declining, down 2% from a year earlier.

 
IOSONO technology combines the use of a large number of loudspeakers with the principle of wave field synthesis to recreate the complex acoustic wave field of sound emanating from actual objects. Based on a theory developed by seventeenth-century physicist Christiaan Huygens, with Iosono, you're no longer looking at a picture on the wall, so to speak, but at an "acoustic hologram". To learn more, click here. To read a recent Los Angeles Times article, click here:

Phase Technology

August 25, 2010 By Liz Palacios 15 comments
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Phase Technology, an American audio company, will be showcasing their new audio products at next month’s CEDIA 2010 Expo in Atlanta, Georgia. If you aren’t familiar with the company’s products…
 

…More after the jump.

New Products for Sooloos

August 20, 2010 By Liz Palacios 20 comments
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Meridian introduces the Media Source 600 and Sooloos Control 15

 

…More after the jump.


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