Tag Archives: Audio Technology

The Vintage Tempest’s Open Letter to Santa Claus

23 Dec
Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

by Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Dear Santa,

There’s not much I need this year. You helped set the wheels in motion to help deliver a few items from the list I made last year. I received Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition some months ago, but the score is seeing Pulp Cthulhu and the out of print Fall of Cthulhu Omnibus arrive before the big day! My dreams have been fulfilled.

Though, with virtual reality (VR) still being the talk of 2016, I still like to see how this technology will grow in the coming year. It leads my list of items I’d love to see under my tree.

Oculus Rift

While the jury is still out in deciding if VR is the future of entertainment, out of all the three contenders (HTC Vive and PlayStation VR being the other two) I’m placing my bets on this device to get my Matrix-style illusion on. The amount of varied software that’s soon to be offered is the main selling point for me. Of course, a fully decked out gaming computer from Alienware to ensure I can play Star Wars: Battlefront VR expansion pack will be great too!


Cheshire Cat Disappearing Coffee Mug (from Amazon)

Thankfully, not every item in my wish list is not expensive. My coffee mug featuring this cat from Alice in Wonderland has the ink literally being worn out from repeated washings from other family members in the home who does not know how to treat a designer cup well — if there’s a version which layers a thick clear finish over it, I’d love to own this cup again.

Every time I drink from the mug, I can not help but grin back at the cat. He always comes back when the cup gets cold.

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[Electric Bungalow] Field Testing QuietOn’s Noise Cancelling Technology

7 Dec

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

QuietOn Ear PlugsMany months ago, I chanced upon an IndieGoGo campaign about QuietOn, a pair of earplugs that operate almost like a pair of Bose noise-canceling headphones. By using active noise cancellation, a fair amount of low-frequency sounds can be filtered out with this sound blocker. This Finnish re-invention looks at the sounds bouncing within the ear canal and creates additional filters for quietness.

After a few weeks of my own testing in random environments, these plugs do work as advertised. They are described to effectively block sound when filtered through walls. For example, those sounds of jet engines from far away, the loud neighbours from the next room in a hotel and elephant stampede in an apartment one level up are nonexistent. I have yet to try sleeping next to an air conditioner and when the noises are not blaring directly at you, they function as intended. Snoring beasts are difficult to prevent, so my quest continues lest I have that suitcase Newt Scamander from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them carries to stuff those monsters into.

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Going Surround With Dolby DTS:X, Into VR and Beyond …

24 Feb

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

ef511dd311d205a6bce54596fcd8b2c6_XLDolby Audio Technologies has two surround sound formats which can improve the movie-going experience if the studios and theatre chains embrace it. Most auditoriums are configured with either DTS or ATMOS sound; to fully appreciate the soundscape, people have to be sitting at the sweet spot. This technology was introduced in 2012 and it provides a nice sweeping experience assuming the movie is encoded in this format and the stadium’s speaker setup is configured to the right sound levels. New to the scene is DTS X (for any sound system) and Headphone X (for mobiles and tablets). In both formats, this psychoacoustic sound reproduction algorithm simulates surround sound from 11 different sources, including height, from a simple group of speakers or a pair of headphones. The former was introduced in 2015 with technology finally appearing this year (a full sound system upgrade is still required to get the most out of the specification), and the latter was first demonstrated in 2013 at E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo. Nearly three years later, this technology is not widely known by the mainstream public and it is still not recognized as an alternative means to enjoy surround sound as of 2016. Demos of this product only began appearing late 2015.

When considering this year is flagged as the time virtual reality can potentially take off, to provide a truly immersive experience requires the right sound system to match. Nearly everyone is excited for the Oculus Rift. This company partnered with RealSpace3D instead of Dolby and both use headphones to create a 3D auditory world. They both sound spectacular, recreating proximity to sound sources with ease in the demo videos offered, but mastering height is tricky. Not everyone hears the same way. People with hearing loss may not perceive noises from a heightened distance as easily. Both companies want to make inroads to the (home) theatre market but until movies get mixed into one of these auditory formats so it can be experienced, all anyone is going to get is a basic surround mix over an all-encompassing format.

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