Saturday 25 November 2023

MUSINGS: Beyond "High Resolution" recordings. Into "Immersive" and "High Reality" content.

The other day, I was reading this interesting article about someone upgrading his computer gaming gear to the latest and greatest, only to find that it ultimately made no meaningful difference for today's games that he's playing. No surprise? (As discussed a couple months back, I upgraded to the nVidia RTX 4090 but not for gaming.)

As tech hobbyists, it's important not just to be aware of what we could buy, but more importantly, what is it that buying the hardware would achieve.

Human sensory systems are not infinite - whether it's the angular resolution of vision, or how many frames per second we need for gaming before it's no longer noticeable (upper limit I've seen maybe 75fps?). So too, there's only so much audio frequency bandwidth or dBs of dynamic range we need to more than saturate our auditory limits.

To me, it's not good enough to just be fed information from the usual magazines or advertisers or reviewers, it's more important to understand what it is that the technology is able to do and by doing so, we understand what we really need, and have a chance to anticipate what we might be looking for ahead instead of being unduly externally influenced.

In this spirit, let's take some time to consider the road ahead. After all these years, where is progress to come from? Let's think about this...

Saturday 18 November 2023

How-To: Resurrecting bad BIOS update with CH341 USB EEPROM Programmer (AMD AM4 motherboard, 1.8V flash example).

Let's do a quickie post this week.

As per the discussions last time, I've been doing some computer upgrades here at home and at one point a few weeks back, I was updating the BIOS on my AM4 MSI X370 SLI Plus motherboard but accidentally disrupted the power in the middle of the flash!

This basically "bricked" the machine because this particular board only has one BIOS bank and there are no facilities to reflash. Since my AMD Ryzen 7 1700 CPU is still a very reasonable 8-core processor that can still be used for many applications these days, I looked for an inexpensive way to fix this BIOS mistake. The solution is the package shown above - a CH341 24 and 25-Series EEPROM Flash Programmer (less than US$15, this item on Amazon Canada).

Saturday 11 November 2023

Why not? 😉 AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Workstation & Ryzen 7 5700X Gaming CPU upgrades. Slowing pace of obsolescence & hardware waste for Windows 11 compatibility?

Although typically I write about audio stuff on these blog pages, not infrequently I'll talk about my computer updates as well. Looking back, this has allowed me to review the journey along the way over the last decade. As we enter into the Christmas season this year, I think this is a good time to be looking at computer parts as prices of things like SSD drives and DRAM in particular seem to be very attractive with DDR4 and DDR5 memory trending down, M.2 SSD likewise appearing to be bottoming over the last 18 months perhaps as the cost of basic necessities (food, housing, gas) have risen and disposable income reduced. I would not be surprised if inflation starts to drop in 2024 while the electronics parts rise in price again.

Who knows exactly what the future brings, but this looks like one of the best time to grab something like a 2TB M.2 SSD or some RAM:

The trend isn't as obvious with CPU prices. However, I upgraded my Workstation computer recently to the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X CPU - 16-cores, 32-threads I found at a decent price. And since it has been ages, I also updated my Gaming PC in the living room for the heck of it to the Ryzen 7 5700X.

Saturday 4 November 2023

MUSINGS: Multichannel mixes are more dynamic than 2-channel, stereo releases. (Going beyond 2-channel stereo legacy.)

Last week, in the Part II review of the Topping PA5II+ amplifier, I talked about a few albums like The Rolling Stones' Hackney Diamonds and the sound quality of the album. For years now, I'm been unhappy with the status quo of ubiquitous Loudness War, dynamic compressed albums. We've even explored using DSP to artificially improve the content for example.

A complaint I have with the Stones album is that the dynamic range of the CD is poor at DR6; and yes, this is an audible limitation. However, if you like this album, I recommend listening to the multichannel/Atmos stream or grabbing the limited edition BluRay import box with 7.1 TrueHD-Atmos mix which is much less compressed, with album dynamics averaging DR12!

[For simplicity, I'll stick with the DR "crest factor" result due to familiarity for many of us. These days we can talk about LUFS, EBU R128, etc. as discussed before as measurements of volume and for normalization. Check out the DR Database for results from many albums.]

In the last few years, I think some of us will have noticed this pattern of much more gentle use of dynamic compression in multichannel content. This is why a few months ago, I suggested that multichannel streaming simply sounds better than standard stereo 2.0 to my ears (this possibility was also suggested back in late 2022 and discussing this Steve Wilson multichannel mix).

Let's have a look at some examples.