May 29, 2004

The Superstation

I just learnt about a french radio station called France Bleu which has an extraordinary license - as it has 3 very interesting aspects.

Firstly, it's licensed power is 300,000W non-directional!
To follow that, the licensed frequency is AM (864Khz)!
to add to that, the AM transmission is.. Stereo.

So, to recap: This is an AM Stereo Radio Station pumping out 300,000W of power from the Eiffel Tower!


OK, here's another kicker. Confirmed coverage extendeds throughout Europe, Southern England and Ireland (800km away!) from this one transmission out of France [1][2]. I can only imagine it's circumference! (it does have local repeaters in isolated markets)

Any suggestions for a new liner? Post your comment!

AM Stereo: Info
AM Stereo: Yahoo Group


George Michæl has been sorting out his personal life.
You will either ignore the rest of my blog or actually feel interested to read on, especially if you ask "Which part of his personal life?"

There's the toilet thing, his Mother's Cancerous death, the media-frenzied outing, the passing of his HIV Positive partner (Anselmo), or the latest...
George Michæl with his parter of 8 years will leave his home on the edge of the Thames (and his homes in America) and possibly move to Vancouver, Canada. He is so unhappy with his deceitful Prime Minister and the politics played with the US government, it's convinced him to move.
This is not a spare of the moment publicity stunt to coincide with the album release. George Michæl has been through a hell Michael Jackson can really only dream of at present. He doesn't need CD sales - thats not what he's looking for at all. He wanted to get an album out to tell his fans that he is still here, and is now (still very) capable of making an album.

Of course, George Michæl gave his first TV interview in ten years to Oprah (which helped with US album sales, but not important in the bigger picture) and we learned a lot about why he went into seclusion. He had dark days. He was depressed, and he now returns with reason (much like Prince). Here is a snippet from the Oprah Interview:

"I just wanted to tell people that I know I’ve been away a long time. The honest truth I needed to sort out my personal life. Then I felt I sorted out my personal life. Then I found out my partner was ill. I knew I was not going to be able to work. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to write or sing while I was as terrified as I was of losing my partner. He died. I spent 2 years grieving over that. 3 years after Anselmo died, I met Kenny. I called my mother the day after I met Kenny to tell her I met this wonderful man. Unfortunately, it was the same call she had to tell me she had cancer."

George Michæl has not only overcome his past demons, troubles and bad rep, he now seems to have healed, and is back in his groove, working hard and making music - his energy.
His first move was to release 'Patience' and then announce that this is his last "album". Anything further is to be released on the internet, and I applaud that. It marks a change in George Michæl, from the chart dependent days of 'Wham', 'Faith' or 'Listen Without Predjuice'.
If you own 'Older', then you will understand that on a musical level that 'Patience' is similar, but the drive behind each of these albums is seemingly different.

George Michæl HAS substance, and those who wish to obtain the good stuff will find it, more frequently and on-demand online. This is the calibre of high quality work that will not come from any made for TV Idol or todays 'hairgel' Pop/Rock bands.
George Michæl has the history, credibility, freedom and talent and I'll sure as hell support him. In years to come, those who ignore this move may realise how important this really is. Many have boxed him as one of those struggling-but-talented 80's has-beens. They of course don't know much about him at all and only see dollar signs.

Artists like Elton John, George Michæl, Michael Jackson and Madonna have been at the top for a long time, have gone through tremendous change and despite some having major personal issues, remain extremely talented and continue to prove they are the lifeblood of international pop music regardless of what the current 'trend' or 'fashionable pap' is. They're innovators and are often one or two steps ahead of the game. They are true superstars and I feel lucky to even own a George Michæl CD, as I may never buy anything new from him on CD again.

George Michael on Oprah: Transcript

May 24, 2004

Andy did you hear about this one?

Andy Kaufman. Legend.
Should stay that way.
So that press release was a hoax, but still I sit with baited breath waiting to get a confirmation that Andy Kaufman had indeed done the worlds greatest prank.
Yes, there is a dated death certificate, and evidence of a gravesite (although the picture is taken from such an angle, no name can be clearly read) but still, wouldn't we all be suckers.
I will keep an eye on Letterman for a special 'guest appearance', although somehow I think it will be that bearded guy who impersonates (without impersonating) various hot topic celebrities. Yes, he's even been Paris Hilton.
I should ignore that widely publicised blog and keep my eye on this one. I'm a sucker any way you look at it.

May 19, 2004

The Great Audio Codec Test 2004

After having a few busy weeks, I find a day available to finally do this. Define in my own time, and with my own ears an audio codec test.

I was particularly taken by the promises from iTunes and Dubbers enthusiasm for converting his digital music collection from mp3 to the new AAC/mp4 technology, and since I'd also heard a bit about the open source OGG, I decided I needed to do this.

For testing I played the media through windows media player 9, winamp and foobar (for AAC/MP4) to get player perspectives. I have also written this so my Mum can understand what the hell it's all about.

Each test has a place winner, from first to fifth.

The first test I did was for - 128kbps, 44.1 stereo (CBR)
#1 The best sounding was MP3 although it wasn't the smallest file size.
#2 MP2 had a lot of high frequency 'bubbling' (Sounds like its underwater)
#3 OGG lost some treble.
#4 Windows Media Player was slow to play its own WMA files! Lots of lag and sounded metallic.
#5 AAC/MP4 was the worst sounding at this setting. just horrible.

The second test was 192kbps, 44.1 stereo, (CBR). Things should be really close to perfect here but,
#1 MP3 was as close to clean as could be, with a tiny bit of high frequency 'bubbling', but was hardly noticeable.
#2 AAC/MP4 certainly made up for its suckful performance at 128kbps.
#3 WMA still had a metallic sound to it, but had the smallest file size.
#4 MP2 still had some high frequency clipping, but not bad on the whole.
#5 OGG regained its top end, but still some bubbling on vocals.

Anything higher on any of these codecs should have been unnoticeable. So I went downward to streaming quality.

The final test was at 64kbps, 44.1 stereo, (CBR). I was looking for the cleanest, and most bandwidth friendly codec.
#1 OGG wins!. Double Take!! OGG is VERY clean and has a crisp top end. It also has the smallest file size, because it actually played at 57kbps. Unbelievable!
#2 WMA comes in a close second. Small chunk sizes, and you can hear the top end losing fidelity, but sounds ok on pc speakers.
#3 AAC lost a lot of top end. It sounds much better than mp3, considering they are the same file size.
#4 MP3 lands fourth, with only bass and midrange only. Pitiful output.
#5 MP2 is dead last in the streaming test. Sounds like an AM radio station. Muddy as hell.

#1 Big winner was still MP3 with general cross-compatibility, and consistent file sizes with most other competitors.
#2 Second runner up goes to OGG for its brilliant performance for streaming.
#3 Third place is MP2, for being a general all rounder considering its old age.
#4 Fourth place goes to WMA for best effort without superior result.
#5 finally, AAC lands last place - because of its general incompatibility, slow conversion times and average result.

FILE SHARING = MP3 (winner)
STREAMING = OGG (winner)

note - Real Media was not included because the codec could not be obtained, and it generally sucks anyway. Maybe Dubber should hold off?