W A R N I N G !

W A R N I N G !

This page is full of non-facts and bullsh!t, (just like the internet and especially forums and other blogs), please do not believe entirely without exercising your intellect. Any resemblance to real things in reality is purely coincidental. You are free to interpret/misinterpret the content however you like, most likely for entertainment, but in no case is the text written on this blog the absolute truth. The blog owner and Blogger are not responsible for any misunderstanding of ASCII characters as facts. *cough* As I was saying, you are free to interpret however you like. *cough*

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Random thought of the day

People always say "time and money" or "time and effort", but they forgot another important factor - skill

You may spend a lot of time and money and effort doing something, but if you have no skill, you're going to spend more time and money and effort doing that thing and end up getting something inferior compared to a job done by a professional or an expert.

So the next time you want to brag about something, don't forget to say skill when you say "time and money". It makes you appear conceited, but since you're already bragging you might as well go all out on it. :)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The best music are found in the least found places

Although I do not listen to mainstream music, I can still tell a good song from a bad one. Just that the things in the music we're looking out for is different.

Previously I already knew that lots of good songs are found in *mature* games, so I searched through the library and indeed found quite a few good ones.

But quite a few still went by undetected.

It was pure chance that I came across the opening video of Full Ani when I was searching for Bale Out (you know, the song with a lot of f***) on YouTube.

I watched it, first I was pretty impressed with the music, then the quality of the video (*not the image quality of YouTube).

I didn't know any company made such an RPG (hent** or non-h**tai) in the recent 3 years.

And sure they didn't.

It was a Mahjong game by Leaf.

If most RPGs both online and not have this quality of an opening instead of slideshows I bet more people would be playing RPGs. Even few Animes can match the action at the chorus part for their openings. Not even Ragnarok Online's opening, even though I heard it was done by some of the field's best artists in history (People who stick to old practices in an ever-evolving field should be relegated to the depths of history, yea color pencils are still the best medium, well then color-pencil the effects of that lighting from the fireworks) I'm not talking about budget here, because this thing doesn't look as high-budget like some of the Anime series are, but it's the directorship that counts. With enough things happening, even Stick Death can become artistic. I'm sure you've seen some high-budget series with nice detail high frame rate and few errors in artwork only to be screwed by a lack of action and shitty plot. (Hint: Think mainstream) It's not as if Toshiro's special ability is running and Orihime's ability is just to cast a shield while other idiotic enemies just slash at her once and then jump sideways. (Fortunately I only watched till season 3 so am unable to comment on future openings)

So I went off-topic again. I realize I'm good at this.

Back to topic, I had that song in my library. But I never even listened to it because it was from a mahjong game. And which mahjong game in history have a good opening song (plus video)? Maybe just one - this one.

Then again, this is a game by Leaf. Who knows how much they are making from To Heart 2.

So this song is "just now" by clap for Full Ani

Two other notable mentions are Thank you for your love - CANDY - My Fair Angel opening/ending theme,

And Kanata - Shimotsuki Haruka - Maiden Breeder 2 opening - Shimotsuki Haruka fans should love this one.

This three songs I really got by pure chance, because there wasn't any way I would have had come across them. It's not like Innocent Starter or White Album, which I came across while searching for Mizuki Nana and playing QOH '99 respectively. And those are easy to find. Who the hell would play the three games I mentioned up there? (Actually, I did for My Fair Angel. Going to play Full Ani also, just to get the full version of the song, yes)

While Shimotsuki Haruka would be a good pointer, the song Kanata usually doesn't show up in her discography, because it is one of her early songs (2002, but she already sings very well by then), written by NadiR and copyright belonged to TEATIME, and THE SONG WAS NEVER RELEASED. It's a tragedy that such a nice song does not have a full version.

There are also other famous mentions of songs that are good yet found in the most obscure places. Shimotsuki Haruka fans should know fairly well 初恋小箱, found in the single of Princess Maker 4 opening 硝子鏡の夢. (I still prefer 硝子鏡の夢 a bit more though). Or heck, when it comes to Shimotsuki-nee-sama there are countless other examples out there. And how about all the songs from Da Capo II. Then there's Lapis Lazuli, from the visual novel 夜明け前より瑠璃色な which only good point was said to be the song.

If remove the "famous" restriction (meaning known and said to be good by many people) and lower the rarity requirement a bit, there are loads of excellent songs waiting to be uncovered out there. Which makes up my collection.

It's sad that although these songs are good, they will never make money because people are paying for songs that are wildly advertised and pushed out of a production pipeline. Whatever happened to making music for the sake of making music?

All the more reason not to listen to mainstream.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Random thought of the day

"It's a misconception that an old dog cannot learn new tricks - just that those that do usually have no need to since they are pretty good at what they are already doing, and those that need to learn new tricks need to do so because they haven't mastered anything yet."

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Random thought of the day: Manufacturor ethics

ADD: I made a slight mistake when I said that improvements when upgrading equipment can be due to EQ. Actually, it's more like the removal of it.

Inadequate performance will result in EQ-ing of the sound in a negative way. For example, poor transient and slew rate = boomy bass, distorted highs, insufficient drive/capacitance = less bass, driver too small = weak bass, amp too weak = clipping etc. Not all in the list is EQ though, but some will have audible EQ-like effects.

So even if there is some EQ-ing happening, it's not always bad.

People say they can hear a good enough difference upgrading to sound cards like X-Fi with their ATP3, or that Go-Vibe DAC sounds better than Prelude,

There is a chance it's from the EQ, I guess. Like recently the MS-1000/MS-2000/MS Ultimate wooden distancers.

And more obviously was that people are claiming upgrading to a certain sound card gave them more bass etc. (If that isn't called EQ I dunno what it is already)

So I was thinking...

If I were to purposely EQ a product so that it has more bass and highs so as to trick the inexperienced into thinking it is better...

It would pose some ethical problems.

Then I suddenly realized it has been done already.

Creative X-Fi Crystalizer.

Then there was this DAC that can adjust "tubyness".

Saturday, March 7, 2009

One more for Atoms, MS-1 still zero

For the past two days and today morning I kept my MS-1 plugged into the Zhaolu and my Yulong T-amp off.

And I thought I'd be able to get use to the sound of MS-1 and like it more.

To the contrary it had the opposite effect. After taking the MS-1 off and turning the speakers on, I was blasted by a wide soundstage, impactful bass, extended highs.

Signs of my speakers telling me that the MS-1 is shit.

The MS-1 does feel a bit more analytical and musical (in the sense that the notes are more seperated and distinguishable), but the Atoms just have a much better overall presentation.

$300 DAC (~$250 + $50 for the op-amps) + $160 headphones, vs $300 DAC + ~$500 amp + speakers.

Ok, maybe I'm playing fking unfair. $460 vs $800. Or $160 vs $500 if you're looking at drivers only.

With $500 I can get MS-2, K701, HD600.

But will they be worth it? Actually I don't think so.

Also since I already know that the Atoms (and MS-1, and many other drivers in general) sound largely the same even as I switched sources from DAC to on-board, I think it is safe to hypothesize that Atoms with on-board ($500) will still sound better than MS-1 with DAC-Amp ($460).

Testing only proved it correct. With the on-board, the sound is more dead, more jumbled, less space, less extended highs, and more noisy, but overall presentation still wins the Zhaolu-MS-1 combo.

I knew drivers make the largest difference. Now I also know the extent of which in more detail. And that statement (that drivers make the largest difference) is hell of an understament when people say it to others.

So the Zero-MS-1 bundle selling in Jab*n is doing a huge injustice to the DAC. Same for Zero-Aego-M, Zero-MX5021, Citypulse-Audioengine A5, (any DAC the price usually used with)-Travagan 3", any a whole lot of DACs out there. The only exception is Go-Vibe, which a friend of mine found something interesting about it.

No wonder people can use the Zero and Zhaolu in systems that are so much more expensive compared to the norm in HWZ. Because the point of diminishing returns is hit fast on DACs. It's all about balance.

I already know my self-repaired Atoms are bottlenecking the system. Maybe I should upgrade to the Primus 160?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Strange observation of the day + thought of the day

Google for MS-1000 or MS-1 distancer mod.

Claims to improves sound quality by making the drivers further away from your ears.

On the other hand, there is the doughnut pad mod which improves the sound quality by moving the drivers closer to your ears.

Oooooooooh, so both increasing and reducing the distance improves the sound quality?

So who is right?

If the supporters from both sides were to engage in a discussion it would most likely end up in a flame war instead.

Supporters of either above-mentioned mods, stop reading here. Supporters of this site, continue.


First of all, what needs to be mentioned, is that the sound signature will change as you move your drivers nearer/further/forward/backward/
up/up/down/down/left/right/left/right/B/A. It's not rocket science and it applies to each and every headphones. And speakers, duh.

Secondly, people cannot differentiate between an improvement in sound quality and a change in sound signature. And again, sound signature =/= sound quality, although good sound quality requires good sound signature.

Lets see what a user think of the MS-1000 mod:

"On to the SQ. Firstly, as the head-fi thread says, there really is a MONSTROUS increase in soundstage! everything sounds so much more open and there actually is noticeable spatial positioning with instruments and vocals. i don't think there's much of an increase in bass (i felt the MS1s had plenty of bass already when driven with a good amp) , but there's definitely a change in bass quality. Bass sounds more defined and textured. my initial impression was that there was actually LESS bass, but after getting used to the new bass, i appreciate the improvements. it seems to blend into the music better instead of being slightly overpowering. Vocals sound less intimate than the MS1, but that's because of the increased soundstage i feel. treble is also clearer with the removal of the comfy pads. that nice sparkly sound is enhanced, but the phones may sound more sibliant as well. i think the treble is much affected by the felt used in the distancers. i first tried without any felt and it sounded terrible. i now have a thin layer of felt on the inside of the distancers, and there's an improvement. i may add more felt in the future if i feel it's insufficient."

everything sounds so much more open - because the drivers are further away

my initial impression was that there was actually LESS bass - because the drivers are furter away and there is more leakage... he initially thought there would be more bass. (Somehow, to people, "improvements" must always be improvements, and there will never be a trade-off expected)

but after getting used to the new bass, i appreciate the improvements. it seems to blend into the music better instead of being slightly overpowering -

This is the excuse that people always like to give for underpowered bass. Lets see if it holds true for this scenario, as MS-1's bass response isn't what you'd really call typical. Read on.

Basically, shifting earphones nearer to/further away from you has EQ effect, I'm sure you should've realized that from daily usage of phones - earphone, headphone, telephone. And that's what's being played on here.

So in all actuality, both sides are correct, because either moving the drivers closer or further does make it sound better to them because they like the sound.
But they're also both wrong because this is a personal preference, and it does not hold true for everyone.

Now's the interesting part - if this thing is about personal preference, then each person should adjust to his or her likings.

Then why is there a group of jab*nites queueing up to get a custom-made mod that is of a fixed size (specs from the original modding thread) just because somebody said it would sound better? Actually the answer is in the sentence but I'm asking it anyway.

Enough criticizing, I actually have a way to test out the concept. And you too.

Since it's not hard to just pull your earphones a little bit further away from your ears with your hands.

The effect will not be exactly the same since there is no wood to isolate, but MS-1 doesn't have much isolation to start with, since the sound will leak out from the back.

Pulling the cups a few mm away, immediately I noticed a huge change in sound. But that's to be expected.

The highs are louder and bass softer as expected. But it is actually for the better. Because MS-1's bass is kinda screwed up - there is too much of mids (which gives the impression of lots of bass) but not enough deep bass to support it, hence it sounds very funny without that bass kick. Too tonal and one-note. Definitely good for certain genres of music, but bad for things requiring serious bass. How it struggles to produce the extra midbass makes it sound boomy at the same time. Also, the highs of the MS-1 are slightly rolled-off.

The EQ-ing definitely paid off. At least the bass sounds pretty normal now, and the highs are louder in volume hence making the sound more forward. It has a sound signature similar to that of my Atoms now, which is a good thing, since the Atoms are fairly accurate after I toned down the extreme frequencies. Minus the bass of course, can't expect MS-1 to have much bass rite?

The sound is definitely much much more natural. It also feels less headphone-ish with the extra space. Soundstage is also greater. I believe the spatial feeling will be further improved with the mod as the sounds reflect off the wall.

But there is one problem that stops me from diving in altogether - the highs.

MS-1's highs are not known to be very good. It's not as detailed as the MS-2, and can get a little bit noisy at times.

Increasing the highs makes the sound seem more detailed, but it also amplifies the distortion and lack of detail. Instead of the hard piercing impact I'm supposed to get what I got feels more like a thin unpowerful background-noise hiss. Or more sibiliant as the user put it.

Maybe the reason MS-1 is a bit muffled and highs rolled-off is otherwise it would not attract as many buyers with its flaws more obvious. And the bass is also a selling point for suckers who want bass yet somehow do not want to use speakers or IEMs.

Hence I stand corrected. This mod does not make the MS-1 better. It does make it seem to sound better.

It's just not possible to save a dead horse. In this case the drivers of MS-1 are its limiting factor.

If you can get it modded cheap ($20-30 in the jaben mass mod offer thread) and if you like the sound, you can go for it. Or you can do some makeshift job yourself with socks. But if you were to pay $60-70 and some of your time for a "professional" job done, I'd rather save the money, use the time to work, top-up a little and get a MS-2. And it would sound a lot more nicer with more potential for modding, but there will always be people who think the MS-1000 (wtf for a name, machiam better than SR325 like that) is better, and sell it online for over the cost price of an MS-1 + the mod.

Which brings us to another thing I want to talk about today. There are some people who always think that their modded equipment are always vastly superior to other unmodded products, and spend their whole lives trolling about it. They will claim their equipment beat even things 2-3 times the price. When people test it to be untrue, they turn aggressive and question the tester.

Face it, if companies can make things twice as good for almost the same cost (actually they'd make it just as good for half the cost) they would've done it. And if you could do it you'd be an engineer working for them. But you're no engineer, and the marketing department had most probably thought of the idea before already.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Random thought of the day 2

All paths to heaven and nirvana in religions somehow involve death as prerequisite or outcome

(And people think fanatics who commit suicide are stupid)

Random thought of the day

Having worked in many companies before does not show that you have lots of experience; it shows that you suck for being fired from each and every one of them

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Mediacorp okto inability exposed

We already know the quality of St*rhub and S*ngtel digital TV broadcast and certain local distributors' VCD quality are bad.

But this time, the one up for some trouble is Mediacorp. Its okto channel to be precise.

This is an organisation that has freaking loads of experience with video and its technologies. And they can make this extremely grave mistake:

Something looks very wierd rite? It's even worse when the characters are standing up and you can see their whole profile.

Because this is the way it's meant to look like:

Choosing "normal" aspect ratio on my LCD screen stretches SDTV signals to 16:9. Suddenly the video looks ok. Note the stretched okto logo.

Frames from fansub for comparison:

This is not an isolated case - it happens in more than one series.

The guy who did the transcoding failed VE. If he can resize 16:9 to 4:3 without noticing any problem. His supervisor failed too. The most stretchable excuse would be that the source that reached him is 4:3, but that would suggest a shady source (which has been suspected all the while), and he still failed for not noticing that the characters are too skinny.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The loudness war... is actually beneficial

If you didn't know what it is already, read this first:

Loudness war

No, it has nothing to do with your MP3 player being loud and new albums damaging your ears, if you're thinking so you probably have not read the above article and/or knew nuts about dynamic range compression.

If you prefer this satirical site's straightforward explanation instead of swimming your way through wikipedia, dynamic range compressions makes the difference between loud and soft sounds less. The result is you hear music loud all the time, the downside is it does not sound as loud as it should be when it is really needed, also you lose details when that happens, apart from distortions.

In the most extreme cases, to the trained ears, you can clearly hear when the volume has been obviously reduced. Though this does not happen as often nowadays as it did ten years ago.

The loss of detail part is easy to understand - imagine sound A at 60dB, and sound B at 60dB. Together they would produce a complex superimposed waveform at >60dB, but thanks to compression, you don't get exactly that. So both sounds becomes softer.

Oh that fking sucks. I just realized this while listening to music on my way home today. I was concentrated on a particular instrument when the chorus came in and "drowned out" the instrument. To be precise the instrument got softer instead along with the rest of the song so that it stays at the same volume level.

That explains why certain songs suddenly get softer at a certain point of the song, and it's not due to my ears. When my ears suddenly become softer I lose at least 25dB of hearing. This one may be just a couple of dBs, but it can get irritating.

So, how can it be actually beneficial?

You have to view it as a double-edged sword. There must be a reason why mastering engineers chose to do this.

And being loud is precisely that reason in the first place. You want music to be loud all the time. Hence you reduce the difference between soft and loud sounds. Have you heard heavy metal that is soft?

While the loss of dynamic range is definitely destructive, it does not make you any more deaf. In fact, speakers can't make any more sound than they are allowed to. It's the fucking volume knob, you conservative know-it-all talkshow motherfuckers. So what if the volume is 85dB (the hearing limit to avoid hearing loss for prolonged periods btw), with the compression, at least we know it's 85dB ALL THE TIME. Without it, the dynamic range can be as great as 20dB. That means if you adjusted the volume to 85dB because it is just right for you, you can suddenly get 105dB at the climax. How's that for hearing damage, idiots.

The real real-life usefulness of dynamic range compression, comes from portable usage actually. Imagine a constant ambient noise of 40dB. If soft parts are really that soft, you won't be able to hear them over the din. Yet it you turn up the volume, see above paragraph. Hence, compression gives you a safe way to enjoy your music by actually hearing it.

It also allows you to listen to music at night without disturbing your neighbours, same reason. It is actually known as "Quiet Mode" in Windows Media Player, as this things really works best when your music is quiet, absolute or relative.

Another possible but unexploited usefulness is that you can store more data for the quiet scenes, then expand the dynamic range later on. The same concept is used for older analogue recording mediums for a different reason. But we can use it again, both to solve a problem and to improve the sound quality at the same time. Pity we don't know how each and every piece of music is remaster in order for this to work.

Uncompressed music would be nice, when you have the environment and conditions for it to sound as loud and clean as it's supposed to be (usually requiring a live band or freaking good speakers to reproduce a live band). Until then, lets rock to the constand-volume music.

$2 headphone stand - the Banana stand

I got this idea from sgheadphones.net.

The Banana stand is not the name for this headphone stand, rather, it's a banana stand that's used as a headphone stand.

$2 each from Daiso.

As you can see my headphones are pretty much entry-level hence justifying the use of such cheap stands and not $30 pieces of wood from some brands. It does, however, makes no sense to use these if you have something that cost you over $400.

The yellow cloth thingy is anti-slip mat cut into elongated stripes and wrapped around the holder. It serves two purposes: one is to have a softer, wider surface for the headphones to rest on so it does not leave a mark, serving the main duty of a headphone stand, secondly it prevents the headphone from slipping off.

The rest of the huge mat is placed below my speakers, killing two birds with one stone. Also $2 from Daiso.