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Surround Sound Philosophy 101

Surround Sound Philosophy 101

Red Panda
Source: Flickr

There has been a long evolution in commercial movie theater sound. During the first two and a half decades of movie theater presentations, a piano, organ, orchestra, sound effects man, or actors reading the dialog comprised the sound of movies. Electronic sound appeared in 1926 with the coming of the “talkies. ” Theaters were wired for sound, and a big speaker perhaps set behind the center of the screen did it all. This was the monophonic sound era. Then stereo sound arrived in the 1940’s with left and right channels. Additional sound channels were added in the 1950’s. (Somewhere in there, a center channel was added to anchor the dialog to the center of the screen. ) Finally surround sound came on the scene in the 1980’s in various versions adapted to the acoustic challenges of the commercial movie theater. (The advent of DVD’s brought affordable surround sound to our home theaters. )
Home theater sound can follow any of these commercial movie theater approaches, or it can move beyond to new levels of sonic realism and effects.
One important difference between movie theaters and home theaters is that movie theaters must present acceptable sound to a (hopefully) large group of people sitting at every location of a large room. In contrast, a home theater usually serves a much smaller group of people sitting in a much more limited part of the home theater space.
The limited size of the usual listening/viewing location in a home theater can work to the advantage of home theater owners due to the nature of sound reproduction.
To understand how sound reproduction bears on this discussion, let’s start by considering stereo sound.
In stereo systems, if a listener is closer to the left speaker, all the sound apparently comes from the left speaker. If you have a stereo, turn it on and try this: sit in a location equidistant from the two speakers and listen to a good stereo recording with your eyes closed. Note the spread of locations the sound appears to come from. Now move a few feet to the left of and then to the right of center and notice how the sound which was spread across from left to right collapses into “all left” or “all right”. This failure of the stereo illusion is unavoidable when you use just two speakers. This means there’s always a “sweet spot” (where the stereo effect works best) located on a line centered between the two speakers in a stereo system.
By the way, purchasing more expensive speakers cannot overcome this effect, as the failure of the stereo effect ONLY has to do with both the differences in loudness between the two speakers (due to being closer to one than to the other) and the difference in the time when the sound arrives at your ears from each of the two speakers.
The center speaker in movie or home theaters is an attempt to override this problem by placing a speaker in the middle of the screen for dialogue and other sounds which the film maker wants to make sure comes from the center of the screen, no matter where you sit in the theater. The center channel solves the problem of stabilizing the dialogue but alas, any stereo sound being provided by the front left and front right speakers will still seem to collapse to one side or the other if a person sits well to the left side or the right side of the theater.
So, now let’s consider the surround speakers. In movie theaters, the sound system designers are really stuck in a dilemma. Some audience members are often sitting right under or right next to one of the surround speakers, which means there’s no hope of the person hearing the other surround speakers’ output at the correct volume and at the right time to get any sort of stereo effect from the surround speakers. This is probably why the older Dolby Pro-Logic system rear surround was only monophonic.
Instead, sound system designers for movie theaters apparently threw up their hands and designed and arranged the surround speakers to:
1. Really lag in time, (so the surround sound wouldn’t arrive BEFORE the sound from the main speakers, no matter where you sat, and)
2. Arranged for those speakers to smear their sound all over the back of the theater to mask the problems caused by the great variety of audience/surround speaker time and distance relationships.
Now, along comes home theater.
Most home theater users don’t fill the room with audiences, but the philosophy of earlier commercial theater design is still being applied. You will observe how some home theater rear surround speakers are designed to project sound in multiple directions and how the set up manuals will often direct that the speakers be placed to project their sound away from the main viewing location.
Here’s the thing – if you want to reproduce the movie theater listening experience, use the surround speakers which try to spread sound all over and position those speakers to aid that goal.
But, if you want to enjoy the more accurate sound source positioning (the sound appears to come from some exact location behind you, to your left, right, or even overhead! ) made possible by Dolby Digital or DTS, a different approach should be used.
In this approach (labeled “Holosonic Sound” by Gary Reber and the gang at Widescreen Review magazine [www.widescreenreview.com]) the rear speakers are placed behind the viewers at about the same distance from the main listening position as the front speakers. They are usually somewhat further apart than the front speakers. These surround speakers should be:
1. Well matched to the sound quality (timbre) of the front and center speakers.
2. Direct radiating, and pointed at the prime listening position.
3. Capable of handling at least one-third to one-half the power that the front speakers can handle.
4. Located at a height at or slightly above the height of the ears of the audience.
(To prevent sound from the rear speakers from being blocked by seatbacks, they might have to go a bit higher. The viewer’s ears must be able to directly “see” the surrounds. )
Home theater owners whose seats are right back against the wall will have to cope by placing the surrounds on the back wall facing the seating, but spaced well away from the viewers (same distance from the viewers as the distance from the front speakers to the viewers, if possible) to minimize the collapse of the rear stereo effect if an audience member is not sitting exactly between the two rear surround speakers.
Movie makers today are releasing films on DVD with sound that is designed so that home theaters arranged to produce accurate stereo sound from good rear surround speakers will really give you the feeling the you are inside the action, with actors sometimes speaking behind you, and sounds moving right out of the screen over your head.
How do you reliably adjust and test your home theater for the kind of performance we’re talking about here?
Easy! Order the AVIA disk from Ovation Software’s website. (www.ovationmultimedia.com)
Study the materials presented on the AVIA DVD, and then follow the instructions on the disk, or hire a pro to do the job after watching the DVD has helped you to understand the outline of what has to be done. The audio portions of this disk will assist you mightily in tuning up your system if you do it yourself. It contains “circulating” audio test signals that circle around the room and if you set up your theater for accurate surround sound, that test will show you how well surround sound can work in your home theater.
It can be very satisfying to have better surround sound than the commercial movie theaters.

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Noise Discipline In Airsoft

Noise Discipline In Airsoft

Playing airsoft at night or under indoor low light conditions can be a great change of pace. You can experience the action of a gun fight with the highs and lows of watching a horror film. To succeed under these conditions, you must practice good noise discipline.

In low light conditions the importance of hearing is increased. Frequent pauses in movement to listen for your opponent and to get a bearing on your team’s position will help insure that you and your team do not become a victim of friendly fire.

In addition to frequent listening stops, you yourself must insure that all equipment is secure and does not generate noise as you move. The metal brackets on your airsoft gun sling and the radio loosely attached to your vest will allow the opposite team to pinpoint you as easily as if you were calling out to them. It is best, before you set out, to jump up and down and listen for noises that you can prevent. Higher frequency noises, such as metal on metal, are much more prone to directional location via sound.

In low light conditions it is usually best to slow your movement down and keep your breathing under control. If your breathing is elevated and forceful your ability to hear is greatly diminished, and you will have to sacrifice crucial time to allow for your breathing to fall back to a level that will not impair your hearing.

You may also want to forgo the usual fully enclosed face and head protection in favor of an eye and face only style mask. The impact from an airsoft BB in the ear can be a painful event, but the increased ability to pin point sounds may be worth the slight chance of being hit in a tender spot. Given that being hit in the head, neck, or ear will cause no permanent damage, you must decide if the increased ability to hear and locate sounds is worth the pain risk.

The choice of magazines you use in your airsoft gun, may also lead to problems on the field. Low and mid capacity magazines are advisable, do to their ability to hold each BB in place. Most high capacity magazines utilize a reservoir that allows ammo to rattle around inside the thin metal container. You can usually hear someone carrying a high capacity magazine from far away, especially if the magazine is partially expended. Medium capacity magazines are a better option as some can handle large quantities of ammo, while maintaining the position of each individual BB.

In airsoft, as well as the real world, having good team movement can make all the difference in the world. Having signals for immediate stopping and relaying positions of sounds heard by team members is paramount. It does no good to practice good noise discipline if you can not hear because your team continues to move and make noise.

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Sinus Problems? No Problem at All

Sinus Problems? No Problem at All

.:Cat Girl:.
Source: Flickr

We all know how it feels. We’ve felt the pain. The pressure builds until you think you can’t handle it any more. Your head feels like it’s twice its normal size and ready to burst. You know what I’m talking about: Sinus problems and sinus infections; whatever you’d like to call them. They can really make your life miserable for weeks at a time, especially during the winter months.

Sinusitis, most commonly known as sinus infection, happens when the sinuses get blocked and mucus and air cannot flow freely through them. Here’s a statistic to think about: 30% of all people suffer from sinusitis at least once a year. Put that in perspective and that means about 1.8 billion people suffer from one sinus infection or another during the year. This includes those who suffer short term (acute: 1-3 weeks), long term (chronic: 3-8 weeks) and recurrent (multiple times throughout the year) sinus problems.

Sinus infection symptoms can hit you in a number of ways. They include:
• Fever
• Headache
• Runny nose or nasal congestion
• Cough
Ear ache or ear infection
• Swelling around the eyes
• Upper jaw and tooth ache
• Tenderness around nose, ear, and cheeks
• Weakness or fatigue

Personally, sinus headaches make me want to die. I feel like I’m in slow motion. A helicopter sounds like it is just above my head with its choppers going constantly. The pressure mounts in my sinus cavities and fills every whole from my brain to my face. I can’t concentrate on anything and everyday tasks become burdens. I couldn’t imagine dealing with sinus headaches on a regular basis. Nobody wants to go around feeling like that. Life’s hard enough without your head beating like a drum.

None of those are fun to experience; you have places to be, people to see, and things to do. You can’t afford to be sick for lengthy periods of time. If you’re part of that 30%, then you would probably like to know what you can do to prevent sinus infections from making your life a mess for weeks at a time. Simple activities, using a humidifier, and regularly cleansing nasal passages are a few good ways that can help decrease sinus infection symptoms. These symptoms can also be combated by using a nasal spray to clean, flush, and kill the harmful bacteria out of your nasal passages and sinus cavities.

Sinus problems can really complicate your daily routine and make life miserable. So plan ahead and don’t get stuck in slow motion from sinus infections.

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Give Your Business The Advantage Of A Bluetooth Headset

Give Your Business The Advantage Of A Bluetooth Headset

Stefani Slutty
Source: Flickr

When you’re in business, you always want to give the best to get the most.
One of the efficient devices to add to your arsenal is the Bluetooth headset to keep tabs on people and their latest exploits in the name of the business.

Business Chic and Hi-end Tech

If you have people in the field and in other parts of the country dealing with clients and looking for financial opportunities, you’d want to know what’s going on. The Bluetooth headset will bridge the gap and the miles.

In the office, teleconferencing can take place with people at their cubicles, but ideally, a teleconference should be held in a quiet place without the irritating background noise coming from keyboards and paper being shuffled.

In all appearance, a Bluetooth headset is a discreet device that can be worn on the ear. It is a single earpiece that establishes connection to the phone, camera, PDA, and more, relying on Bluetooth technology.

Bluetooth technology in the layman’s glossary is wireless connection technology. No more dangling wires that get in the way. Simply wear it, dial the number, and provide the password given to you.

The latest Bluetooth headset in the market is version 2.0, which is three times faster, uses less power, and has simplified multi-links because of more bandwidth. The 2.1 version provides extended power conservation. These are pricey, but eliminate the problems of the older versions.

Your Bluetooth headset

Shopping for the Bluetooth headset that’ll supercharge your business? Take the following tips to heart:

Budget is the deciding factor when buying your Bluetooth headset. You’ll have to decide if you’ll go for the $30 or $300 headset or those in-between.

You’ll have to decide if you want boom or no boom. A boom is the small microphone appendage that sticks out from the headset, which you can adjust comfortably.

In reality, there is no assurance that a Bluetooth headset is comfortable. Worn for hours on end, it can become uncomfortable on the ear. You can switch these from the left to the right ear and back again to ease the pressure on the ear.

Better yet, try on the Bluetooth headset before making your final choice, if you’re buying these from a retail shop. These come in different sizes, so you’ll have to consider the people who are going to use these headsets. There are also headsets with eyeglasses clips or interchangeable loops for those wearing eyeglasses.

Other deciding factors when buying your headset

Your headset should be easy to pair with multiple phones. The Bluetooth headset can be paired with multiple phones. By pairing, you are connecting the headset and your phone instantly, and the two will recall each other’s names and connect each time until you decide to break up the pairing.

Choose a better-sized headset. The smaller the headset, the tinier the buttons. If you happen to have fat fingers, you’ll be constantly seeking the on-button and dislodging the headset.

Battery life. The bigger and weightier the headset, the longer the battery life. You have the option to choose somewhere between two to 10 hours talk time and 25 to 250 hours standby time. Remember, you can’t receive calls when you’re down on batteries.

Get the Bluetooth Advantage Now

There are great reasons to get the Bluetooth headset. Cut down travel costs, increase workforce productivity, exchange information real-time, and cut down those telephone bills. You’ll have up to 5-10 people on the line. Won’t your business gain from these advantages?

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Online Jewelry Purchases Makes Life So Much Easier

Online Jewelry Purchases Makes Life So Much Easier

This article was written to answer many of the most frequently asked questions on this topic. I hope you find this information helpful. Did you know that jewelry is just a click away?

Jewelry purchases are increasing in leaps and bounds with Americans spending over $50 billion each year on such items as jewelry and watches. Instead of spending hours going through malls and scouting out the perfect earrings and necklaces, consumers can shop for jewelry in the comfort of their own homes.

When shopping for jewelry, it’s important to have an understanding of the fundamental materials and stones. The following information should be of help with your purchase:

Materials: Yellow Gold – Pure gold (24 kt. gold) is too soft to use in jewelry, so it is combined with silver to form a metal mixture consisting of 14 kt. gold.

White Gold – White gold is has no color and won’t tarnish, and is usually a mixture of gold and nickel.

Sterling Silver – Silver is too soft for use in jewelry, so silver is combined with 7.5% of other metals (usually copper) to produce sterling silver.

Platinum – A gorgeous silver-white color, platinum occurs as an alloy in nature. It’s tarnish-resistant qualities and durability make it a favorite material for fine jewelry.

Gemstones: There are a wide variety of gemstones in jewelry. There are everything from diamonds to garnets and emeralds to sapphires. Gemstones add glitter to all kinds of jewelry from earrings to rings. Numerous jewelers use simulated gemstones which offer the sparkle of the “real thing” at a far lesser price.

Birthstones: Jewelry that uses birthstones is an enduring favorite, specially when given as a gift. The following gemstones and colors are associated with each birthday month: January: Garnet (dark red) February: Amethyst (purple) March: Aquamarine (pale blue) April: Diamond (starlight) May: Emerald (light green) June: Pearl, White (pearlescent) July: Ruby (red) August: Peridot (pale green) September: Sapphire, Blue (deep blue) October: Opal (moonlight) November: Citrine (yellow) December: Topaz, Blue (sky blue)

Trends Having the latest jewelry trends is helpful when buying fine jewelry for yourself or as a gift. For example, this season, celebrities are wearing ear pins and ear cuffs both on and off the red carpet. . Whether made from gold or silver, ear cuffs add that pizzaz required to make you stand out and feel beautiful.

When choosing earrings or necklaces with gemstones, the key this season is to combine colors for maximum effect. For example, pair a deep blue with garnet, or purple with medium green.

Online Shopping When shopping for fine jewelry online, be sure to click on to a reputable site.