I’ll say it again. There is genuine magic in a vinyl record.
The grooves pressed into the vinyl are direct analogs of the sound waves that struck the microphone. Because they’r analogs, the physical medium becomes part of the process of sonic reconstruction. Every single factor in the signal chain—the physical characteristics of the stylus, the cantilever, the coils, the magnets, the tonearm, the turntable motor, the connecting wires, the preamplifier components, the equalization curve—everything affects the signal quality. Every single component votes on the overall sound.
That decades of engineering brilliance have made it possible for such stunning sound to come out of such an obstinate signal path is the triumph of passionate will power over the inordinate obstinacy of the physical universe. During the seventies and eighties, I invested a small fortune into high-end stereo gear and a much larger fortune into an admirable collection of rock and classical and electronic music.
Playing a vinyl record is an act of devotion for an audiophile. You handle it lovingly, you use a special blower to bow excess dust off it, you give it a wipe with a clean micro-fiber cloth or maybe you run it through an expensive record-cleaning machine, you install a special brush on the end of the tonearm to remove errant dust from the grooves before the stylus gets there, you lower a dust cover over the whole affair so that dust doesn’t land on the record while it’s playing. And you make sure you have the whole thing sonically isolated on so that even an errant foostep won’t be felt by the stylus and produce an audible thump in the music.
[04.09.2010 Update] Hey all. Just wanted to chime in real quick and note that Blizzard has caved in and reversed its "First Name Last Name" forum policy as of 9:47 a.m. (PST) today. That's Murphy's Law: 1. Blizzard: 0...
Ugh. I was all set to write this totally awesome column about how World of Warcraft's latest Real ID measures are The Lich King's gift to proper forum management, and it's just one more reflection of much of what I talk about in this weekly column--the idea that the walls are slowly lowering between our various online identities as we transition our lives into a tell-all kind of digital tale.
Of course, resident Maximum PC gaming pundit Nathan Grayson beat me to the punch. With respect to Mr. Grayson, however, I don't think that he's really covered enough ground in regards to Blizzard's announcement that any World of Warcraft players seeking to post on the company's forums will now be identified by their first and last names--the "Real ID" I speak of.
What I find most curious is that this situation blows open the various degrees of user permissibility in an open world of data. What does that mean? Simply put, there are varying levels of sharing that people are comfortable with in the digital age, and it's funny that so many are complaining about an unsheltered digital lifestyle that we're headed toward anyhow.
Canon’s Digital Photo Professional (DPP) ships with every Canon DSLR. It’s a simple, straightforward editing tool that pretty much supports just the basics: adjusting color temperature, batch conversions to other file formats, and simple noise reduction. It lacks the sophistication of its competitors, but since it comes free with every Canon DSLR, it’s tough to be too harsh.
The main interface is simple and uncluttered—arguably too uncluttered, as DDP hides much of its functionality under the menus. Want to crop? Pull down the tool menu and launch the trimming tool. Need spot repairs to remove dust specks? Fire up the stamp tool. Once in a tool, you can’t do anything else until you finish, then close the tool.
The main photographic touch-up capabilities are available when you begin editing an image. You can easily adjust white balance, brightness, contrast saturation, and tone curves in a tabbed panel alongside the image being edited. It’s easy to pop up a window that compares the original to the edited image, so you don’t have to always eyeball the changes from memory.
Wireless is the new tech race in the compact digital camera field, and Kodak was first out of the Wi-Fi gate with the EasyShare One. This 4 megapixel “compact” camera has 802.11b connectivity that not only lets you print your images wirelessly but also share them on the web.
Nikon’s D50, the company’s latest foray into the sub-$1,000 digital-SLR category, outstrips most other budget bodies in its class and kicks much point-and-shoot ass.
Much of that capability comes from the D50’s lineage. The body feels and functions like a detuned D70, which was itself a breakthrough product. The D50 sports the same imaging sensor as the more expensive D70, and delivers terrific bang for the buck.