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President's Message
August 2004

1.  "Developing an Ear for Nature's Untuned Orchestra", by James Gorman, reviews a CD, called The Diversity of Animal Sounds", a compilation from the Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca NY. It originated as a banquet favor for a meeting of ornithologists and was so well received that it was polished up and offered to the public.

Some of the sounds are downright embarrassing. The sound of the dusky titi monkeys is lurid. It could have been recorded on a night when demented extraterrestrials visited a sex club. But the booklet is quite clear that the monkeys are not doing anything appropriate for family listening. When hearing the sound of the American bittern, what came to mind was a bassoon swallowing a tennis ball.

"Dawn Chorus" (Miramar) is a wonderful cd that offers the sounds of birds at dawn from sites throughout the United States.

For a wide ranging catalog of books and CDs on sound and soundscapes, try


The World Forum for Acoustic Ecology, at:, presents an academic consideration of soundscapes. NYT 25Ja02

2.  I had a need for a wireless lapel microphone for use in amplifying a lecture with piano demonstration. I bought the least expensive unit I could find — a complete package from Radio Shack, #32-1221B, $50 on sale. Although it's billed as having a range of 200 feet, I found that the useable range was more like 10 feet. It only achieved full quieting at a range of a few inches! Also the mike is an omni, making it more prone to feedback. Clearly not for serious applications.

3.  A letter in the New York Times: As a fan of both classical music and football, I often mute the volume and play serious music as a soundtrack to the game. The effect is surprisingly satisfying, as my wife, who is not a football fan conceded. Big orchestral pieces (including Rachmaninoff) work best. It's amazing how often, say, an extended crescendo in the winds and brass will nicely underscore a third-and-long rollout play. As a bonus, the inanities of network commentators...are eliminated.

David Hadaway

President, Boston Audio Society



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updated 11/11/04