Boston Audio Society Audio Featured Links of the Month
the best audio links on the internet
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NOTE: Because of the fluid nature of the web, some of these links below will disappear, be swallowed up, reappear in another dimension, be re-linked and renamed perhaps correctly, and so on.
I try to keep checking, but you know...
 

Featured links - April

April Fuel

 

Time to get serious about frivolity.

The ubiqitous EveAnna Manley goes to an audio meeting of The Hollywood Sapphire Group www.hollywoodsapphiregroup.com and the further down their page you go, the better it gets. In fact I don't have to post ALL the links because you can find them yourselves. Amazing, an audio group older than the BAS. Whuda thunk?

Well, ok. Maybe I will post just a few links. This one is not to be missed if you want to filter out bad sounds from your solid state devices: www.altmann.haan.de/tubeolator

Combining electronics seriousness with fun is what www.sparkfun.com is all about. If you're a DIY'er you'll find it fascinating.

I'm always on the lookout for interesting calculators.
Here's a superb batch: www.cepd.com/calculators.htm The attenuator page is especially interesting and useful.

In the previous posts I have linked to a number of interesting if not peculiar "military" audio devices, the latest of which is here: www.gizmag.com/lrad-long-range-acoustic-device/11433 .  Quite frankly the specs are not exactly exciting, and clearly none of the military purchasing agents responsible for the contract has ever been to a Nickelback concert.

And one last winner, passed along by Klay Anderson of Klay Anderson Audio fame (www.klay.com) ...this sets a new low standard, even for Craigslist... CLICK HERE !!!! Unbelievable.

— Barry

 

Featured links - Spring

It's been way too long a-ramblin...

 

From our very own neck of the woods (Nantucket, to be exact...) comes this story of remarkable audio restoration, and of how Jamie Howarth has won a Grammy Award for the restoration of a Woodie Guthrie wire recording. The story of the Grammy Award is here: www.sciencenews.org/articles/20080209/mathtrek.asp and their homepage is here: www.plangentprocesses.com

David Pogue, columnist for the New York times, sums up everything you need to know about music and video wars on the internet in this 4 minute video ditty, here: www.ted.com/talks/view/id/196 ...well, maybe not everything you need to know.

I often enjoy the rantings of technical curmugeons, hoping to be a professional curmudgeon myself someday, so in tying into the above video and music download explanation you might enjoy the technical musings of Robert X Cringley, posted on PBS, here: www.pbs.org/cringely Hit the ARCHIVE button and snoop around.

When paper magazines arrive, over the years I've found myself heading straight for one section or columnist. In Mix magazine, rest his soul, it was Stephen St. Croix. He ALWAYS said what I wanted to but said it about 6dB funnier. In PC Magazine it's John Dvorak's columns (and his Cranky Geeks online TV show). The jumping off place is here: www.pcmag.com/category2/0,2806,3574,00.asp

— Barry

Featured links of the Month - July

Happy Birthday, Tesla !

 

General audio testing on a PC, such as oscilloscope functions, RTA, Spectrum Analysis, measurements in the phase domain, etc have come a long way in the last few years, easily surpassing large/bulky/expensive dedicated measuring devices of years past. For the fall months (and the start of the school year) I will try to post a comprehensive list; an update to what we already have HERE. (See the column on the right...)

But for now, there is a very interesting and comprehensive tutorial and demo software package available from a Japanese company YMEC Software. The actual software download page is here: www.ymec.com/eg.htm  The tutorial, called Introduction to Simple Sound Measurement for your Notebook Computer is here: www.ymec.com/hp/signal2/index.htm .

Nikola Tesla's birthday is July 10th and in honor of one of my heroes, here are some links for the month. In 1958, John Weisner and I (mostly John...in fact 98% John...) built a Tesla coil using a pole pig and a push-pull pair of 813's, modulated with, um, noise, which managed to disrupt much of the broadcast band and then some in the Albany / Schenectady area for a couple of days at least. This is the 12 year old kid's ham radio equivalent of today's hacking, not unlike climbing a mountain because it's there. Over the years I have met a few Teslaphiles who are almost religious in their following. Enjoy!

While a google of Tesla returns more than 12 million links (and no, I haven't quite had the time to view them all...) some of the links are both illuminating and worthwhile. For example:
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikola_Tesla  
And two other wiki articles HERE and HERE.
PBS: www.pbs.org/tesla/  
The Tesla Memorial Society of New York: www.teslasociety.com  
The Tesla Foundation of North America: www.tesla.org/  
The amateur science Tesla page with MANY links: http://amasci.com/tesla/tesla.html  
From our Aussie friends, there's this REMARKABLE site: www.tesladownunder.com
Jim Glenn's page of Tesla's patents: www.hbci.com/~wenonah/new/tesla.htm  
In case you want to rent a large Tesla coil for your next party, check this out: www.teslasystems.com
The BBC has their take: www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/alabaster/A486182
Tesla Technology Research builds GORGEOUS Tesla coils for museums and such: www.ttr.com  

Here are some videos: We start with an audio modulated tesla coil video
www.youtube.com/watch?v=lI6q18QNZns.
...and another: www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tKo_3DzdSU
Here's a video and story of how a Tesla Coil is built:
http://hackedgadgets.com/2006/07/24/tesla-coil-overview/  
There's a solid state Tesla coil here: http://hackedgadgets.com/2006/04/17/solid-state-tesla-coil/

There's an interesting summation here: www.flyingmoose.org/truthfic/tesla.htm  
A refreshingly different Fortean Times viewpoint here:
www.forteantimes.com/features/profiles/78/nikola_tesla.html  

Then we have a Wardenclyffe Project site here: www.teslascience.org  
and another article here: www.damninteresting.com/?p=703  

Some fellow named Bert Hickman has a site called Stoneridge Engineering, "Teslamania" HERE...
...while Bart Anderson has the Classic Tesla site here: www.classictesla.com

Another links page, thanks to Laura and Emily... HERE !

I saved the best for last: the motherlode of Tesla links, here:
www.tfcbooks.com/mainpage/links2.htm

and THIS JUST IN:
www.easternvoltageresearch.com  A handsome and well done presentation! Kits! Goodies!

— Barry

 

Featured links of the Month - May 2007

Bob Katz and the Digital Domain

 

Bob Katz is a world renowned Mastering Engineer whose accomplishments read like a who's who in the industry. You can read all about his remarkable facility, and his inventions, and his book, (highly recommended) here: www.digido.com.

His site is actually quite enormous, and the audio FAQ section alone, with comments by most of the other world famous engineers, will keep you busy for hours.

He has just installed a pair of JL Audio Fathom 112 subwoofers in his facility in Florida, and here are his comments.

— Barry

 

Featured links - Spring 2007

Speed Freq

 

You'll forgive me if I didn't get too silly this year for April Fool's Day. It was just too somber a time to get frivolous. You'll have to revert back to last years' April section, below for the frivolity.

The issue of the speed of sound has come up many times and I thought I'd finally do something about it. Don Davis in his book Sound System Engineering, uses 1130 ft/sec and that is what I have used for the last 40+ years of calculations. Considering the effort put forth by humans measuring the speed of light, the relative ambiguity of the speed of sound is positively amazing.

However certain anal retentive mathemeticians have a plethora of their own ideas about this, which you might wish to peruse...

google = 340.29 m/sec = 1116.4 ft/sec (hmmm... maybe it's cold at Google headquarters because they're overcompensating for the heat produced by the lava lamps...)

The Georgia State physics dept. has a lovely javascript calculator here:
http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/sound/souspe.html
I admit this is my favorite one...

Nasa has their own ideas...
www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/K-12/airplane/sound.html

In Glenbrook IL, it's 343m or 1125.3 ft/sec
www.glenbrook.k12.il.us/gbssci/phys/Class/sound/u11l2c.html

The wikipedia does have a superb explanation, which comes out to (at 68 degrees F)
343.4 m = 1126.6 ft/sec.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_of_sound

Mathpages.com has a complex explanation starting with Isaac Newton and LaPlace and progressing through yet another unique explanation, arriving at (to quote them) "...the true value being about 1116 ft/sec" :  www.mathpages.com/home/kmath109/kmath109.htm

Wolfram research has a complete and smoothly elegant explanation here:
http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/physics/SpeedofSound.html

Pico Technology has a chart which shows the effects of humidity, along with a cute oscilloscope experiment, here:
www.picotech.com/experiments/speedofsound/speedofsound.html

There's a quickie explanation with a (temperature input) calculator here, and their answer at 68 degrees F is 343.6 m /sec or 1127.3 ft /sec
www.school-for-champions.com/science/sound_speed_gas.htm

Cut to the chase here: a simple javascript calculator which simultaneously outputs the speed of sound in Miles Per Hour, Knots Per Hour, Meters per Second, Feet per Second, and Kilometers per Hour:
www.csgnetwork.com/soundspeedcalc.html

There's also a handy frequency-to-wavelength chart on my own website, here:
www.soundoctor.com/freq.htm (only slightly shameless self-promotion; after all, it's free)

These freq-to-wavelength charts are vely helpful in figuring out room acoustics, especially the Allison effect, explained here: oops, I removed the link because it went to a scam portal. As soon as I re-find the article I'll post it.

And here's another I missed: www.sengpielaudio.com/calculator-wavelength.htm There's also an entire fascinating page of OTHER calculator links here: www.sengpielaudio.com/Calculations03.htm  

Have fun...
— Barry

 

Featured links of the Month - Winter 2006

Engineering Software

 

If you do any DIY work, are involved with equipment construction or internal tinkering, or get involved with any older or vintage tube audio / radio / ham radio equipment then you need this software: www.electronicsgenius.com . Steve has an electronics store in Largo Florida that almost defies description; imagine a cross between You Do It and Apex or Skycraft, run by a ham radio genius from an episode of The Twilight Zone. (and that's a compliment...) An immense identification and cross reference of parts, components, tubes (including Soviet, mil and vintage codes)...how about obscure phono stylii, you get the idea. Get it! And P.S.: If you're ever in Sun Valley, CA make it a point to visit Apex, and similarly, if you're ever in Winter Park, Florida, visit Skycraft. You'll be like a kid in a candy store.

Lucky for us that the world is populated with the occasional mad scientist. This filter design offering from AADE (Almost All Digital Electronics) ( www.aade.com ) will keep you enchanted for hours.

For general engineering assistance, calcs and conversions I've experimented with a few but this one wins hands down: www.pwr-tools.com . Barry Opdahl has done an exemplary job of squeezing a library full of reference manuals into a convenient, fast, and useful program, and there are 2 versions, a free one and a "+plus" version.

— Barry

Featured links of the Month - Fall 2006

Audioholics

 

Audioholics has a large and complex site with forums and terrific articles. What better way to stir up the autumn witches brew than to peruse these articles?

http://www.audioholics.com/techtips/audioprinciples/index.php

Well, HALLOWEEN is about SPOOKY, the BAS is about AUDIO, and audio is about MUSIC, and, well, music is about VIBRATION, and well, perhaps you can see where I'm going with this... prepare to learn about SVP, or Sympathetic Vibratory Physics, and their homepage... www.svpvril.com all in keeping with the trend I started last year at this time... and the results of my "Does Halloween affect kids?" survey are in. Take a look. Trick or Treat !

— Barry

 

Featured links of the Month - August 2006

More Cowbell

 

Years ago, before they invented neighbors, I used to play the trumpet. While researching a piece on the history of horns, I came across a number of excellent sites that you might enjoy.

From the University Of New South Wales, the Acoustics of Brass Instruments:
www.phys.unsw.edu.au/~jw/brassacoustics.html and while you're there, there are also acoustics sections on Flutes, Clarinet, Saxophone, Guitar, Violin, and more; and what visit to down under would be complete without an explanation of the Didjeridu?

And there is a tremendous brass blog here, beautifully written and crosslinked:
www.hotbrass.blogspot.com

But back to brass and acoustics, where this history of the bugle is superb:

www.tapsbugler.com/HistoryoftheBugle/HistoryoftheBugleContents.html

And in case you're at a barbecue this month, and anyone asks you how you like your burger, be sure to say, "More Cowbell!"

— Barry

 

Featured links of the Month - July 2006

A very VOCAL microphone company !

 

Wow, it's been a busy summer so far, and I've slipped a bit in posting these blog-tomes*... so why not let someone else do the talking?

Here then  www.microphonium.blogspot.com , a superbly entertaining blog by Bob Crowley and Hugh Tripp of Crowley & Tripp Microphones and Soundwave Research Laboratories.

Their main website is here: www.soundwaveresearch.com

* not to be confused with the Blog-Tones, or any of the other obscure acapella groups from the late 60's such as Methyl Ethyl and the Ketones.

I also HAD to add this link just because: http://blueballfixed.ytmnd.com
It's amazing, but someone needs to get out more.

— Barry

 

Featured links of the Month - April 2006

A spiritual visit from I. Lirpa

 

Those of you who are old enough to have met or read about the interminable Mr. Lirpa will agree with me that ANY visit from the esteemed gentleman is an honor, all jokes notwithstanding. For years his brilliant and weighty (literally...) inventions graced the pages of Audio Magazine, and it is with a tip of the historical hat that I ever so humbly present some offerings which I can only guess were inspired by I. Lirpa's genius. Oddly enough, a google search will only reveal scant information about this secretive genius, yet the mere mention of his name in certain technical circles is enough to cause joyful havoc among the constituents.

Actually most of the thanks for this month's content go to Wes Phillips, one of the resident geniuses at Stereophile, whos columns/journals/blogs (as mentioned below, for January 2006) I would not miss (nor should you) and some of whose links I am honored to pass along.

While nearly everyone makes fun of Professor I. Lirpa, who among us cannot appreciate the scientific contribution of such devices as the cement turbo steam turntable (and rowboat), the shower microphone, the 5kg (antivibration) tonearm, the inflatable audio reviewer, and the ZYX phono system? I have it on pretty good authority that the famous Rane PsuedoAcoustic Infector ( PDF file, HERE 120k ) was inspired by the good professor's work.

Here then are some audio-connected and I. Lirpa inspired musings for the Month of April, starting with the web page where everyone gets 'those' pictures from... right here - the Acoustic Radar page.

See the King of Audio HERE.

Professor Lirpa would LOVE this hamster powered midi music machine. What, you think that's easy? OK, YOU build something that cool and submit it for next year!

And speaking of building things, here's a gramophone ... Audio clothing, (otherwise known as Sonic Fabric), and at least one of the world's largest subwoofers... ahhh, but here's the OTHER world's largest...

Professor Lirpa would appreciate racecars built out of cassette machines, here ... and as long as we're out on the open road how about a little vinyl?

One of the reasons you don't hear much about the professor any more is that someone told me he was working for Sony. Hmmm, you don't believe me? Take a look at this page from free patents online, with a PDF of the abstract HERE... (the patent site places a session cookie on your machine and it seems you have to access the PDF from INSIDE the first page)

In your audio travels you will surely want to visit here , one of the most enchanting and flawlessly done flash / audio sites around.

And if you want to beat the drums right now, try this. A little more animé in approach, but still self generated, is this site. As long as we're on track of pointless obfuscation, lookee here. (small hint: once you get inside, mouseover and click) (amazing!)

We have more "Things In A Class By Themselves" here on our own Links Page 5, about halfway down the page on the left, and in case you missed last year's April fun, it's near the bottom of this page, HERE


Surround Sound setup inspired by the great professor

Maybe not quite in an audio vein, but one of Professor I. Lirpa's students (and a genius in his own right) is Professor Irwin Corey, whose homepage is here. I'm sure you will see the connection.

There's more to come if I can find it, or if you can submit it, email me here: webmaster@BostonAudioSociety.org  Let's give the good professor his own honorable page in history!

Enjoy!
— Barry

 

Featured links of the Month - January 2006

 
The crew from Stereophile has a blog about the January CES show, now just finished. Check it out here: http://blog.stereophile.com/ces2006/

And speaking of blogs, Wes Phillips from Stereophile has his own superb section here:
http://blog.stereophile.com/wesphillips/

They also have their fabulous Product(s) Of The Year list here:
http://www.stereophile.com/features/1205poty/

And a non-audio link from the why-didn't-I-think-of-that department, here is a really cool one-pager that's worth the wait... Plan on a good two minutes for loading and you may have to hit refresh to get the graphic...  The Million Dollar Homepage

Enjoy!
— Barry

Featured links of the Month
December 2005

( OFFSITE LINKS OPEN IN A NEW WINDOW )

Happy Holidays ! A time for rejoicing, merriment and presents. And although 'tis better to give than receive, sometimes (just sometimes) you have to get yourself a present just to put the world into proper perspective...

So this month we examine various add-on goodies to your audio system, from the sublime to the ridiculous, since shouldn't a present be a little frivolous?

For the one audio website that's simply over the top, above and beyond; if you're the kinda guy who simply HAS to have 2 Ferraris, perhaps because one is always off getting polished, or perhaps so you can A - B them through the S-Curves, then check out  www.exoticaudio.org , and may your holiday dreams come true! This site takes Dave Barry's line, "There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness"  to soaring, new heights. OOPS! sorry - as of 2007 the exoticaudio site is closed. Sorry you missed it.

As for me, I have spent many years experimenting and tweaking in search of ALL the holy grails of audio and the one fabulous device that keeps my attention AND keeps audio fun is the Aphex 204. Moan all you want about the purist approach to audio (much more on this shortly) but the first time you play a Miles Davis CD through this thing and hear brushes on the snare that you never knew were there, or hear a bowed bass playing way, way, way in the back of the studio, you will be hooked. And the first time you play some rock n roll CD which used to sound like it had cardboard drums and spitting rattlesnakes for cymbals and now you can make it sound, well, "pretty darned good", you will really love it.  I have mine on an umbilical cord (made from Mogami 2931, here: www.mogamicable.com ) so it can sit on my lap and I can play with it for each song. I guarantee this is the most bang-for-the-buck fun you will ever have in audio, for an MSRP of $399, and you need 4 RCA-RCA cables and 4 Phono Jack -->Phone Plug adapters necessary to interface with most home systems.

I arranged to have Colin Miller at Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity check one out for himself, and he has written a most remarkable and complex review HERE. Enjoy.

I have also very successfully set up 3 units ( = 6 channels ) patched in the analog outs of a DVD player; this gives you awesome control over all 5.1 channels of a home theater surround presentation, ( I suggest doing this BEFORE any Bass Management) and does a compelling job of improving essentially anything that goes through it.  Aphex also makes a plethora of other wonderful audio processing devices, each exemplary in their class. While most of the processing devices I mention are intended for professional applications, there are many reasons to implement (or at least experiment with ) such goodies in any exotic higher-end audiophile ( i.e. home as opposed to 'studio' ) system. While adjusting 36 controls might seem slightly daunting to some, it's nothing compared with some mixing boards with 7,000 knobs. And in all seriousness you get used to the unit operationally VERY quickly.

Now don't get me wrong. We could spend DAYS, if not a lifetime, discussing about what's right or wrong about recording and mixing audio (or whether it should be 'mixed' at all...) and the various combinations of setups, microphones, placement, mic preamps, wire (ahem, interconnects...) power amps, and monitor speakers that are necessary (or not) to capture the elusive soul of the recording, ideally in its 3-D holographic acoustic space, and preserve this musical splendor, with all its emotional nuance, for days or generations to come. Whew!

But what we have, right or wrong, for better or worse, at the end of the day, is a REPEATABLE CD (or DVD or tape...) in our hand. That CD, or DVD is not going to change - it's going to be the same today, tomorrow, and next week, (hence the oft-maligned "perfect sound forever" line...) therefore you CAN experiment with it and A-B various combinations of settings or preamps or amps or speakers just as a listening experience in and of itself, always knowing that you can go back to square one, just in case.

Here's a spin... If we extrapolate certain philosophies, such as espoused by Lexicon and Yamaha - and I love to play devil's advocate here - we might purposefully make original [studio] recordings which are dry and 'confined' (perhaps just close miked), and then process this dry sound totally "choosing" the psychoacoustic playback space, and presumably position within that space. The playback space would be resynthesized from algorithims made from measurements made at all the world's great acoustic auditoriums... or simply "invented" from front panel settings... or perhaps drawn on a computer screen.

If we examine this philosophy from a classical standpoint, we can then playback a piano solo and choose whether we are in Carnegie Hall, or the Boston Symphony - or in Smoky Joe's Cafe. We could even introduce the clinking glasses and background conversation chatter into the surround channels if we wished.

But imagine we play back a rock "concert". Perhaps we want to catch the vibe from out in the middle of the audience. Perhaps we want to experience what the musicians hear onstage. Perhaps we want to feel as though WE are the guitar player, standing RIGHT IN FRONT OF that stack of Marshalls... or perhaps we want to A-B all of those positions and then decide which we want to play again later. Technically this is certainly possible, if not a totally plausible scenario.

All if not most of the "party modes" (and resynthesis modes, and anything above 5 channel surround) built into modern home theater receivers are an implementation of this philosophy to some extent. Of course you can get carried away... playing the London Symphony through a "Smoky French Cafe at midnight" synthesized reverb switch position might not exactly be your cup of tea. Or it might.

There's a very interesting psychoacoustic paradigm which takes over after awhile. As mentioned below, playing with a studio reverb processor, a pair of headphones, and a single input microphone can be wildly entertaining. But as you slowly increase the reverb parameters, something odd happens: as you listen, your entire psychoacoustic mechanism seems to phase lock onto this new "sound"... until IT becomes the norm, and turning the reverb down or off then becomes "wrong". This whole enjoyable and remarkably educational field of experimentation is not to be missed by any serious student of the world of audio.

I had the pleasure of helping to design and build what was considered one of the very few ultimate equalizers in the world, built into the Crystal Sound recording and mixing board, designed by the late Andrew Berliner and an illustrious plethora of outside consultant engineers. There were many occasions when visiting mixers and audio engineers were literally moved to tears when they would say that for the first time in their life (or career...), they turned a knob and finally some electronic circuit responded in an emotionally fulfilling way that they had only previously heard in their head!

Equalizers are fun. Equalizers are interesting. Equalizers are dangerous. And of course equalizers don't make anything equal; they help to make things NOT equal !  

If an A-440 note played on a trumpet and an A-440 note played on a guitar were "equal", than they would both sound the same! The fact that they are NOT equal, and have a completely different attack, sustain, decay and release envelope, and have differing amplitude and phase relationships pertaining to EACH part of their harmonic structure, is the essence of what enables us as listeners to both recognize them and tell them apart. Imagine two identical Martin acoustic guitars, one with metal strings, one with nylon strings. And as we get closer and closer to the "same sound" one of the differentiations is the panning position in the stereo mix. If we were to hear these two instruments coming out of the same mono speaker, we would be VERY hard pressed to tell them apart.

So learning about equalizers and how to use and abuse them is also very entertaining; and while the more dramatic use would be when an EQ is applied to each separate microphone channel, you can certainly enjoy when the overall stereo 2-channel mix has been "fixed" (or broken...) with an overall equalizer. During the mastering process, MOST of the time, an equalizer is applied to the overall mix as part of the magic "final sonic seasoning", one of the last steps before you, the listening and tasting audience, get to taste the audio wares.

Probably the number one equalizer ever made and available for purchase especially for the home has to be the Cello Audio Palette (a Stereophile review HERE) built by the real Mark Levinson. Good luck on finding one: it's a bargain at $30,000.

A more affordable and SUPERB equalizer, with exemplary circuit design and performance, is the Meyer CP-10 . This is one of the very few devices capable of properly fixing what most people refer to as "room problems"... except that you cannot really fix a "room problem" without fixing the room itself, but you can attempt to compensate somewhat in the opposite or inverse direction so that you are attempting to subtract from the audio coming out of the speakers whatever the room anomaly is; in the hope that two wrongs make a right. Sometimes they do. Sometimes the result is like seasoning food - a little goes a long way and too much is simply too much. But the joy of discovery and experimentation -- that is the gift.

Many other companies make EQ's, from combinations of parametrics to 1/6, 1/3, 1/2 and one octave adjustment points; from crossovers to simple in-line devices that are patched in if necessary or desired; the world of EQ is an amazing one that should be part of your audio experience. Check out the offerings at Rane ( www.rane.com ), dbx professional ( www.dbxpro.com ), and doing a search on google will pleasantly overload your inputs for days.

Perhaps you're located in the chilly northern parts of our fair land, and you need something to warm you up. Well TUBES RULE as you will no doubt notice if you peruse www.manleylabs.com where Eveanna Manley will keep you warm and entertained for hours with her unique brilliance and awesome equipment.

We have our own links section devoted to tubes on links PAGE 4, as well, and there is a nice page of tube (ahem, valve) links here: www.audiotools.com/valve.html  Stay warm!

There are plenty of interesting and fascinating tube designs out there. Here are a two: Jim Fosgate's all tube surround sound processor: www.fosgateaudionics.com/products/FAP-V1.asp ; and Kevin Hayes offerings: www.vac-amps.com ;

There are also other processors that are simply interesting, weird, bizarre, but nontheless fun, and I would be remiss if I didn't include professional reverb /echo devices. I once spent a week one night buried under a pair of headphones connected to a Lexicon PCM70; the input to the unit was a SINGLE MICROPHONE sitting on the table. Simply playing with the sound(s) of my own and others' voices kept me enraptured for a long time. Our own Lexicon, in Waltham, was and is one of the original manufacturers of professional digital processing / reverberation devices, and their studio units are the standard of the world. Investigate them here: www.lexiconpro.com/products/products-pro.asp

We all know that much of the time, one hand has no idea what the other hand is doing: the AM radio world doesn't speak to the FM radio world; the HIFI world doesn't speak to the Surround-Sound world; and as an even more extreme example, the live sound world (i.e. rock concerts) doesn't speak to the world of installed sound, such as houses of worship and discos... neither speak to the "70 Volt" world of distributed sound in airports... and yet their common denominator is audio, amplification, speakers, microphones, and so on. Yet the philosophies, jargon, buzzwords, and so on are rather different. MOST of the so-called PRO audio equipment, while suggested for the +4 world of "Pro" nonetheless interfaces quite well, thank you, with the "consumer" world of  "-10". And yet, because of dealership and distribution, the worlds of HIFI, Pro, "Installed Sound" and MI hardly ever mingle. That is one reason when I suggest (or demonstrate) a Professional piece in a so-called consumer system everyone is always so blown away -- they had NO IDEA such things were possible, or even available!

If you have difficulty interfacing so-called consumer / semi-pro / prosumer / PRO equipment, check out these remarkable interface boxes made by (again) Aphex: the Model 228 Audio Interface and the Model 124 Audio Interface . One of the best tutorials for interfacing audio equipment is the PDF user manual of the Model 204, here: www.aphex.com/pdf/204/Aphex_204_user_man.pdf  (PDF 1.4Mb).  The 204 mentioned above needs no additional interfacing devices other than perhaps an adapter (or 4 wires...) ; it connects to and from anything.

Take a look at some of the offerings from Drawmer ( www.drawmer.com ), TC Electronic ( www.tcelectronic.com ), Eventide ( www.eventide.com ) ( check out the H8000 HERE ), Behringer ( www.behringer.com ) , and read about the grandaddy of the digital reverb devices, the EMT 250 HERE and HERE with some nostalgia about the older metal 'plate' reverbs and how they were built. Do you think that the 'digital' sound of CD's or DVD's is harsh? Do you yearn for the kinder, gentler days of soft tape saturation and pleasantly involving even-order harmonic distortion? Check out what Rupert Neve has done, HERE.

If you really want to have the last word in control of your audio environment, (bad pun...sorry) check out the Vocal Eliminator: www.vocaleliminator.com . Now you can sing along with Sinatra, or replace him with your own voice track. The history of their development from simple "wiring channels out of phase" to today's digital processing is quite an accomplishment, and a story of dedication.

ALL of the devices listed above are real hardware boxes. Some processing gadgetry is ALSO available (or sometimes ONLY available) as software plug-ins for digital audio workstations, but even in their best implementation there is no substitute for the hands-on analog feel of a real processing device - as cute as the computer screen pictures make the gadgets look. Some of the processing devices really are ALL ANALOG (such as the Aphex devices) while some are all really digital inside, with an analog front end input and corresponding analog output, but all digital in the middle. All the Lexicon and Eventide reverb devices would be an example of this.

Perhaps you want to have a bit o' winter fun without disturbing others - you need headphones/earphones, right? Not those $2.98 (or even $29.95) foam earbuds that everyone has plugged into their ipods, but something, well, more serious. Very much more serious. Of course the BAS has done wonderfully comprehensive reviews of headphones, and we have a links section here: links page 4 (right column, near the middle). My suggestion? You haven't lived until you connect up Etymôtic Research model 4's, HERE directly to your power amp, with buildout resistors, and a good dual pot... (email me HERE if you need the circuit) These are not a toy! As I used to say in my audio store, Prepare to be Amazed!

So here's the scenario: Santa comes down the chimney, and decides to relax for a bit, sitting in a superb leather "theater" chair, a pair of Etymôtic 4's nestled in his beard, a just-big-enough subwoofer strapped to his chest, and the chair is loaded with buttkickers, and they are properly timed for the best psychoacoustic response with a nice Rane digital delay, and the Buttkickers are also equalized with a nice Rane EQ, and the whole mix is going through a Dolby Headphone circuit, as our Santa enjoys his milk and cookies (also HERE) ... And if I were Santa, I'd put a shot of Amaretto Di Saronno into that milk or toddy or coffee or...

This section started out as a links-of-the-month page, and due to the branching, sometimes schizophrenic nature of the web, it's all too easy to just let the mouse wander about by itself, and see what happens... well, this month's click only offering is here: www.one-electron.com/links.html

Above all, enjoy the holiday season, and may your season be filled with magic and love and great audio.

— Barry

 

Featured links of the Month - November 2005
( OFFSITE LINKS OPEN IN A NEW WINDOW )

Please be aware that many offsite links attempt to place malware, scumware, spyware, scripts, tracking cookies and ads on your computer, and having a cognizant program of protection, such as using Norton Antivirus AND Webroot Spysweeper, is a very prudent move.
MORE ON THIS BELOW

 

November... Time to kick back, relax, eat too much turkey, and sit in the ol' easy chair (sweet spot to you audiophiles) and soak up some tunes. But wait, what shall we listen to this year? Where are the cool places to find music that's recorded (and perhaps mixed) well, not some crummy clipped compressed low bitrate hodgepodge that some kid did on his laptop, but some serious audio goodies, destined to show off our awesome systems and fill up our emotional spaces with the nuances of great performances? Where indeed!!!

To get your blood going, and warm things up a bit, check out John Novello's new CD, ORGANIK, on his own site, www.KeysNovello.com . Be prepared to enter another dimension of jazz fusion... He also has amazing stories to tell and some incredible books. Don't miss it.

Somewhat more local to Boston is a most unusual band / group / experience called BellevueCadillac.com , which bills itself as Jazz, Gospel, Blues & Soul, Swing on top of Rock N' Roll... which about says it all! They play the local area (and then some) and have worthwhile CD's and DVD's available. Professor Bell will amaze!

Stereophile Magazine has its own Records To Die For section, the if-I-were-going-to-a-desert-island-what-would-I-take collections, and yearly, they make for some lively reading and listening.

On the other side of the pond we have a similar bent, assembled for us by the kind folks at Inside Hi-Fi & AV Online . (try saying that fast 6 times) Look for the links to  Digital Discs  and then the  Year and Month  on the menu on the right side of the page. The page can't be easily linked because it's in nested frames...

Perhaps you want some visuals with that audio, for your new Home Theater? Well, Audio Video Revolution and Modern Home Theater have teamed up to provide some VERY well written and extensive reviews of DVD's here: www.revolutionhometheater.com/dvd/ .

Of course being audiophiles, we love to experiment - with nearly everything. And here's just the ticket: a foray into the perception and memory for sound, with extensive examples, albums, and a decidely scientific and professional bent that should enchant you for some time. Check out Philomel Records and Diana Deutch's own page, HERE .

And if you just happen to be into collecting sound effects (as oppposed to, say, music...) the Freesound Project will be a nice surprise.

But back to the basics (and I don't mean sine waves and test tones) but to building a classical collection, especially if you're just starting and need a bit of a push... look at www.classical.net and also www.classical.com each perhaps intended to outdo the other...

Let's not forget the more mainstream record companies, many of whom have superb new listings and websites. Here's Sony and BMG , BMG / RCA Red Seal, Brana Records , Angel Records, Delos Music (let's not forget John Eargle's exemplary work), EMI Classics , NAXOS Music, DaCapo in Denmark, and don't miss the Sibelius Academy in Finland (The Sibelius violin concerto is one of my favorites).

The British Library has a master listing of classical record companies HERE , and there's an oddly complete and esoteric overall listing HERE , at Trovar.com, which somehow manages to convey the dusky smell of the back bins of a record shop in the 50's, and since I don't have my scent synthesizer turned on, I just don't know how they do it...

Enjoy!
— Barry
Coming soon...
December - audio goodies & add-on gadgets for your system
January - Maybe Tubes. You gotta keep warm, right?
February - Maybe DIY projects for a snowed-in week
March - no, not marching band music. I Promise. Probably DRM as below...
April - I Lirpa Resurrection
May - getting ready for outdoor audio

PART B: Now about the malware warning above, repeated here:

Please be aware that many offsite links attempt to place malware, scumware, spyware, scripts, tracking cookies and ads on your computer, and having a cognizant program of protection, such as using Norton Antivirus AND Webroot Spysweeper, is a very prudent move.

Besides all the dangers of surfing naked, recently it was discovered that Sony has placed an intrusive ROOTKIT software program on certain CD music discs under the guise of DRM (Digital Rights Management). There's an article about it here, in Wired Magazine:
http://wired.com/news/print/0,1294,69467,00.html
and a short but sweet page in PC Magazine, here:
www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,1882795,00.asp
And there have been a number of other repercussions in the last few days. There's a list of the affected CD's (with some pictures) on the Electronic Frontier Foundation site, here:
www.eff.org/deeplinks/archives/004144.php
The original discovery was made by Mark Russinovich of Sysinternals.com, who has a superb explanation about it in his column / blog here:
www.sysinternals.com/blog/2005/10/sony-rootkits-and-digital-rights.html
A fellow writing on Slashdot has his version and list of the affected items here:
http://slashdot.org/~xtracto/journal/121088
The Washington Post has a number of related articles here:
http://blogs.washingtonpost.com/securityfix/
which deal with the class action lawsuits which are invariably coming, and news of even more developing scams, where one emailer claiming to "help" actually is using the embedded program as a "carrier" for further trojan activity.

Of course the premise is they think they're doing this because if you are playing the CD in a computer you are "obviously" copying it, otherwise what rational person would want to actually listen to such bad audio?... There is no danger if the CD were to be played in a CD or DVD player, only a windows computer where the drive is under control and management by the operating system.

It's certainly logical and rational to view this from both sides. Sony and the musicians are darned tired of being ripped off  (I would suspect the musicians way more than Sony) and the end user often thinks he or she can do anything they want with the disc once they "buy" it, which, unfortunately, is simply not true.

And this just in, (Nov 11) if you think you might "have" this problem, Sophos has published a removal program and rather intense explanation here:  www.sophos.com/support/disinfection/rkprf.html


To add insult to injury, I see that Apple has started an equally (to me) offensive practice / tactic of forcefully installing a drive-by mini download of Quicktime, placing executable startup files and .dll's in the windows\system folder, and modifying the registry, all by simply visiting a page where the user has placed a quicktime presentation into their web page --- the video does not even have to play.

Personally, I would never install quicktime, nor would I ever allow it on machines on my network or that I had control over. On the 2nd driveby, to a different page, luckily I had Spysweeper installed and running and it alerted me, (to the next-time-startup action) but I still had to delete these unwanted vermins, by both finding and deleting things manually AND by having to patch the registry manually, a task not necessarily for the faint of heart. Be aware of the insipid blue weird-looking "Q" (or maybe it's a "q") showing up in the systray. Of course you might actually WANT this on your machine...that's your business. Some people actually use Netscape and like Bose speakers. Whatever.

In the instances where these surf-by intrusions took place, I am 100% sure that the posters of the websites HAVE NO IDEA that this is taking place, and, most likely simply don't know otherwise and view Quicktime as an innocuous method of showing a cute video on their site.

Perhaps in a future column we can examine and see who is the lesser of the multiple evils, and what to do about it. Those of you who are determined to examine this more closely might notice that a surprisingly large portion of the windows registry is taken up with reporting your 'playback' activities to the CDDB. And that's the tip of the iceberg.

For a further glimpse of all of this and way more of what's coming - and if you think cookies are bad wait till you hear about PIE - get this month's issue of PC Magazine or look at the article here:
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1879765,00.asp .  It would appear that Macromedia, once the company that you loved to love, has gone over to the dark side now that they're in bed with Adobe. Perhaps an in-depth examination of where this is all going and has come from is in order, certainly as it pertains to music, the "content" that we all listen to on our aforementioned audiophile systems. Stay tuned for that.

October 2005
( OFFSITE LINKS OPEN IN A NEW WINDOW )

 

Here it is October; time for Halloween and spooky goings-on in audio, and while we're at it, other 'sciences'.

Let's contact the dead through audio - starting with EVP, Electronic Voice Phenomena, HERE and HERE

Then we have the psycho-phone, from Thomas Edison: www.sdparanormal.com/page/page/265918.htm

As Thomas Edison put it, when working on his own device for contacting the dead: “I am inclined to believe that our personality hereafter will be able to affect matter. If this reasoning be correct, then, if we can evolve an instrument so delicate as to be affected, or moved, or manipulated by our personality as it survives in the next life, such an instrument, when made available, ought to record something” (Scientific American, October 30, 1920.)
- from the article You Can Hear dead People, from FATE Magazine, HERE

There is a lovely article here:
www.anomalist.com/features/evp.html

Then we have the world of ITC, or Instrumental TransCommunication: www.worlditc.org

Atlantis Rising magizine has an ITC article here, that's quite complex:
www.atlantisrising.com/issue13/ar13otherside.html

An alert reader and otherwise brilliant audio engineer has sent in this link...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mel's_Hole and there's more audio (.mp3 files) here:
http://turbo.peteronline.net/melshole/

Here's a story about a sonic weapon: www.borderlands.com/archives/arch/gavreaus.htm

And NPR has a story about NLAD (Non Lethal Audio Devices) here:
www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4857417

Here's an article about "The Acoustics of War":
www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/5/acousticsofwar.php

To stretch a point, this article extrapolates the frequencies out to RF... with "The Military Use of Silent Sound":
www.raven1.net/silsoun2.htm The raven1.net website is dripping with strange and interesting pages dealing with audio. For example, this page is about audio mind control via heterodyning:
www.raven1.net/audiotypes.htm .  The name E. Byrd keeps popping up, and perhaps sometime, we'll investigate the links for Mr. Byrd.

If you thought you were being attacked by audio frequencies, or other frequencies, you might want to construct an aluminum foil deflector beanie, shown here:  http://zapatopi.net/afdb/

Some of these people are quite serious. Check out the American Association [of] Electronic Voice Phenomena here:  www.aaevp.com/

No spooky audio page would be complete without a look into the Taos Hum and its associated phenomena. Here's a good starting place:  www.borderlands.com/journal/nux.htm

The actual Taos Hum page is here:  www.amasci.com/hum/hum1.html

Some audio phenomena are not necessarily spooky, just "different". I would suggest that this page and its links offers a WHOLE new perspective on what constitutes "audio", as an informational / entertainment / psychological / psychoacoustic phenomena:
www.johnduncan.org/I-TIDAL.html The root URL is: www.johnduncan.org

We generally mean "audio" to mean "sound"; and we generally mean "sound" to encompass 20Hz -20kHz. Theoretically, of course, mechanical vibration at ANY frequency might be considered sound, even if it isn't within the 20-20k realm of our normal hearing perception. The range of infrasound would therefore extend downward from 20Hz down to essentially the leading edge of the big bang, with a frequency of 1 Hz per x-billion years (that's 1.6 -17Hz ,give or take a few milennia); and then there's ultrasound, from 20kHz up to some frequency limit that may be arguable; I suggest 200kHz, since we consider above that to be radio waves (i.e. R.F., since the regular AM broadcast band starts at 540 kHz...) although something could be VIBRATING at 540kHz mechanically, could it not?... although the medical profession/industry calls up to perhaps 15 MHz "ultrasound" so you won't be concerned or frightened that you are being bombarded with "RF". The word "sound" sounds so benign.

...and here's a spooky page (literally) about infrasound and bass:  www.barbelith.com/topic/14012

As we enter the realm of Halloween, we expand outward like an amoebic psuedopod into the gray moist areas of psuedo science and what I like to call "comic book science", (i.e. everything from "Beam Me up, Scotty" to food replicators to transporters...) and we have a plethora of people and websites claiming to concern themselves with "vibrations", the frequencies of which are not always mentioned or explained...

This site has a "Brain Tuner":
www.braintuner.com/wade.htm The root URL, with lots of links at the bottom of the page, is here: www.braintuner.com .

That Raven net site keeps popping up. Here's their page on (low frequency) GSR:
www.raven1.net/eeg-gsr.htm

Here's a site which is just so cool I had to include it: www.biof.com
This page includes devices which fall in to the range of "audio".

Enjoy all the links ! More surprises next month.

PS - if you're going to try and record voices of dead people, I'd suggest using a phantom powered mic.

— Barry

September 2005

Our ears are the last (and neglected) frontier, so to speak, in the long chain of this game we call "audio". Just how neglected are they, and what do we do about it?

Let's start with this article from Mix Magazine:
http://mixonline.com/TEC20/TEC20-healthy-hearing/
...and move right along to the House Ear Institute: www.hei.org/

There's Hearing Education Awareness for Rockers: www.hearnet.com

and the E.A.R. protection page HERE , site root HERE

British Columbia has a very interesting site:
http://hearingconservation.healthandsafetycentre.org

There are some earplugs with flat response attenuation here:
www.ear-responsible.com/musician.html

The Deafness Research Foundation has a superb site, with a great interactive model of the workings of the ear: www.drf.org They have a brief, but compelling history of hearing science here:
www.drf.org/hearing_health/Archive/2003/spr03_decadesofdisc.htm

Plenty of technical research "bites" at: www.DefeatingDeafness.org

Cochlear implant info here: http://wuphysicians.wustl.edu/dept.asp?pageID=15&ID=8

And here in the Boston area, we are honored to have The Eaton-Peabody Laboratory of Auditory Physiology at the Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary, who have an exemplary website:
www.meei.harvard.edu/research/labs/sensorin.php

The Acoustical Society of America has a window into the world of sound: www.acoustics.org

HearingResearch.org has an article about DSP hearing aids here:
www.hearingresearch.org/Dr.Ross/Digital_Signal_Processing_HAs.htm

For those of you whose ears are wet (not wet behind the ears — that's another issue...) might benefit from this interesting device: www.dryear.net/

I have my own personal theory of tinnitus being the inability of the differential processing circuits in the ear-brain circuit to self-null; the ears' own oscillations are then perceived... Here's a lively discussion of  "otoacoustic emissions", "Hopf Resonators", "Stereocilia", Cochlear waves and sound processing:
http://physicsweb.org/articles/world/15/5/8

...and this just in (Sept 13 2005) an article from Wired, "Young People With Old Ears":
http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,68844,00.html?tw=rss.TEK  with links to the
www.dangerousdecibels.org website.

And here's one I forgot to add...:
http://www.wired.com/news/medtech/0,1286,53298,00.html

Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now?

Summer 2005

And you think you have hum because you have a bad RCA cable?
Buddy, you don't know what HUM IS ! Here, then, the story of the TAOS HUM...
Do not read this page if you have a Hummer.


John Mulcahy has conjured up some pretty nifty software called "Room EQ Wizard" which requires not only an in-depth investigation, but suggests all sorts of further study and comparisons as to how we measure things, are we measuring the correct things, can we hear various differences with different measuring techniques, and so on.

For example, a pet bugaboo of mine has been a ballpark measurement of "THD" when we clearly know that odd order harmonic distortion and even order harmonic distortion sound completely different, and therefore a summation statement of "THD" is essentially meaningless, because it doesn't specify which distortion is predominant... This noble effort of John's has started to provide some discussion on AVS forum, the thread of which is here:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=529224
...and he is to be congratulated for providing such an interesting and insightful tool.

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/john.mulcahy/roomeq/index.html


Opinions in audio get pretty entertaining - sometimes as entertaining as listening to audio itself. Kudos to Arthur Salvatore for having such a bold presence and taking the time to share his thoughts with all of us. www.high-endaudio.com

And here's another view from the Boston's area own Ted Lindblad, who has the site www.highendaudio.com


The nice people at Tracer Technologies have tons of information about "doing audio on your computer" in one handy place: Articles, help, software, hardware, gadgets, goodies, acoustics, etc.  www.TracerTek.com
Intel announced the name to its previously dubbed 'Azalia' next-generation audio specification due out by midyear, under royalty-free license terms. The Intel High Definition Audio solution will have increased bandwidth that allows for 192 kHz, 32-bit, multi-channel audio and uses Dolby Pro Logic IIx technology 'which delivers the most natural, seamless and immersing 7.1 surround listening experience from any native 2-channel source'. The architecture is designed on the same cost-sensitive principles as AC'97 and will allow for improved audio usage and stability."
Here's a novel method for retrieving data [audio] from otherwise damaged recording tape: http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/techbeat/tb2000_07.htm#Forensics
Here's a hot flash from Pioneer... and now for something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT: HERE
This site deserves HOURS of your attention, maybe days.  www.audiotools.com
Everyone deserves to play with the power of the web. The issue is that in order to construct a coherent and complex hyper-threaded web experience, we have the moral equivalent of writing a serious technical book and given the 'free' nature of the web and the lack of financial reward, the effort to produce complex websites for free is becoming limited to the level of insane hobbyists (i.e. There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness." — Dave Barry) that is essentially shared to some extent everyone visiting this website. Here, then is something truly hyperlinked -- and made by hand -- which will provide an entertaining and very educational experience. http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/hph.html  
Spring 2005

A series of audio oddities that has every audio person talking starts with the following and expands outwards, both perceptually and politically.

Start here: www.popsci.com/popsci/bown/article/0,16106,388134,00.html

Then: www.cognitiveliberty.org/issues/first_amend_index.html

There's an explanation of "Hypersonic Sound" here: www.atcsd.com/tl_hss.html

Dakota Audio has some speakers available here: www.dakotaaudio.com

Everyone wants to learn about DVD's. Here's the DVD dilemma, by John Virata:
http://www.digitalproducer.com/2002/09_sep/editorials/09_16/dvd_dilemma.htm

On the +PLUS side (pun intended) we have: the Read/Write Alliance at www.dvdrw.com
On the -Minus side, we have the DVD Forum, at
www.dvdforum.org
Have fun.

There are some interesting and important white papers on the Harmon International site
by Floyd E. Toole and others HERE


On a lighter note, turn any [flat] surface into a speaker with this thing...
Every now and then a site comes along that simply pushes everything else aside with its unusual slant, take, bias, vision, or opinion. Here's one for this month: Somewhat complicated and involved, but watch for some relevant links to provide "closure" to some of this...
http://www.belt.demon.co.uk/product/product.html and
and the homepage: http://www.belt.demon.co.uk/index.html
The Fun Stuff and Other Over the Edge Oddities

Pictures of the month

DadaDodo if words, not pictures are your thing... and

webcollage if pictures, not words, are your thing. Could be boring, could be great.

Edison? Tesla? Einstein? This guy's in good company...

World Chocolate review

Snarg.net may just be the best website of all time. This IS why the internet was invented. Turn down the lights, crank up your soundcard ... Look for squeee and framina... and email me if you need a hint. This site is WAY larger than you might think.

In a similar vein, check out the Conclave Obscurum, HERE . Don't say I didn't warn you. (!!!)

Magnetic Levitation

The Something Awful website. Go figure.

Stinking Badges Website (Everyone needs a hobby...)  click HERE for the .wav file (66k)

Lileks.com vintage retro urban suburban Americana with a modern twist.

Thumb.com High tech prestidigitation at its finest. Thumb Wars, BatThumb, ThumbTanic, more...

Perpetual Bubble Wrap. Turn up your audio...

The MERU Foundation. May be too intense for mere earthlings.

Zapatopi: interdimensional aluminum foil mind shielding hats, Lord Kelvin, and Sasquatch all team up for some comic book science.

Please report broken links, new links, suggestions... to Barry:  webmaster@bostonaudiosociety.org
See disclaimer HERE
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updated 2/9/16