Being a DJ can be an expensive and confusing proposition. Going the traditional route of turntables and vinyl offers simplicity and street credibility, but it also means back-breaking record crates, an investment in turntable needles, and the constant fear of warped or scratched records. A laptop-based DJ rig solves these problems, but with the movement still in its infancy, there's lots of confusion over what products to buy, and each choice comes with its own set of hurdles to overcome.
Like to listen to audio books on your MP3 player, but your player lacks a bookmark function? If you have long audio files that haven't already been split into chapters, it can be a pain to fast-forward to the desired point in the track. This tutorial can help you split audio books into shorter tracks on your own. It can also be used with music, although track length and nomenclature will be different than what is described here. (A tip: if you are splitting an audio file with several songs in it, use points of silence as a guide rather than the counter.)
Time commitment: Varies
System requirements: Mac or WindowsDownload and install Audacity For either Windows or Mac. Download and install the latest LAME MP3 encoder Extract the LAME file From the LAME.zip file, extract only the file lame_enc.dll. Save it someplace that's easy to find on your hard drive, such as the desktop. (When you export your files as MP3, Audacity will ask you to locate it.) Open Audacity Go to File > Open, then select the audio file you wish to split from wherever it is stored on your hard drive. In the upper-right corner of the window, ensure that the selection tool (it looks like an uppercase "I") button is highlighted. Highlight selection Starting at the very beginning of the audio file, click and drag the selector so that it highlights a selection of the file. (You can use the keyboard arrows to zero in on "0" if necessary.)… Read more
Following up on the success of their FireWire Speakers, LaCie has announced another collaboration with designer Neil Poulton. This model retains the same minimalist design aesthetic but draws power from USB instead of Firewire for plug-and-play compatibility with most PC and Mac computers.
Created with the "en vogue" consumer in mind, the USB Speakers let you forgo standard audio cables and replace them with a single USB cord. All the juice needed to power the set is drawn from the computer's bus, and a single wire connects the left and right speakers.
The speakers are shaped like … Read more
Most aftermarket receivers with iPod capabilities include a USB or dock connector dongle, but they leave it to you to figure out where to stow your MP3 player while driving. Fusion Electronics thinks it has solved the problem with the announcement of an internal docking CA-IP500 iPod Receiver. Essentially, what Fusion has done is put an iPod-size slot behind the faceplate that will allow you to slide the digital audio player inside of the receiver.
Looking at the specifications on the company Web site and the images supplied, it looks like making room for the iPod slot meant sacrificing the … Read more
Here's a way to have surround sound audio, but still keep it all to yourself.
Beginning later this month, peripherals maker Plantronics will start shipping its Gamecom 777 headset, which simulates 5.1 channel audio through just two channels--your left and right headphone speakers.
The intention is to enable PC gamers to play games with the sound happening around them, and not directly in their ears. That enables longer listening time--less "listening fatigue," to use industry parlance--and therefore longer gaming sessions.
I got a personal demonstration at the Dolby Theater here in San Francisco (see photo), along … Read more
You see it every day, a passing parade of new-tech gizmos crowding the market.
From phones to mobile Internet devices, digital cameras, music players, and mini notebooks--and on the home theater side--formats that whither and die just a couple of years after their much ballyhooed introductions. Every day there's more junk.
Most of this glittering assortment of wowie-zowie tech trinkets are destined to take up landfill space in five years or less. That's apparently OK; nobody expects to keep an iPhone all that long, and besides there's always something new, jam-packed with the latest tech to buy. Why would anyone expect to just buy something good enough to use for a decade or more?
Audio is the exception to that mindset. It seems like I've met a gazillion baby boomers still using the hi-fis they bought around the time of the first Woodstock. One Audiophiliac reader bemoaned the fact that his 20-year-old $600 speakers were now beyond repair. He got 20-something years of use out of the speakers--and that's not enough.
When it comes to audio people think it should last forever, though some of the best stuff comes close. For example, the "other" McIntosh, the audio company, still factory services amplifiers built when Nixon was president. Gee, I wonder if Apple would fix your dad's Apple II? … Read more
Boston Acoustics was in Manhattan earlier this week to demonstrate its new Vista Series speakers. Boston kicked up the styling and all of the speakers feature radical "wave-like" curves and drop dead gorgeous lacquer paint jobs. The high gloss black was beautiful, but the cherry wood was a knockout! Really hot stuff and durable too -- one of Boston's people actually took out his keys and tried to scratch the speaker's paint -- but the finish remained pristine.
That's nice, but wouldn't mean much if the speakers didn't sound great. The demo was … Read more
Back in the day, the easiest way to listen to your PC-based digital music collection on your home stereo was to drag the two into the same room, and hook up the stereo to the PC's headphone output--easy with a laptop, a bit harder with a desktop. Over the past few years, a variety of network audio streamers have made that process considerably easier and less disruptive. These products connect directly to your home stereo (or minisystem, boombox, whatever--anything with speakers and an auxiliary input), and access a variety of digital audio selections via your home network--all the MP3s on your PC's hard drive, Internet radio, podcasts, and many Internet music services (some free, some paid).
A quick perusal of CNET's list of best network music players shows that the three top dogs in the category are the Logitech Squeezebox Duet, the Sonos, and the Apple TV. But that hierarchy doesn't quite tell the whole story. Finding the best streamer for you involves a bit more research. All three of these products are excellent overall, and each of them offer an option for perusing your music collection from a screened remote (that is, a handheld remote control with a nice color screen, so you can pull up songs, artists, playlists, and Internet radio stations from the palm of your hand). Of course, each of them has varying strengths and weaknesses, different price points, and may involve purchasing additional accessories to get the full experience. To that end, we've gone beyond the in-depth reviews on all three products to highlight the pluses and minuses of each. … Read more
Mr. Polk Audio himself, Matthew Polk, was in town last week at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan to demo his newest creation, the SurroundBar 360 DVD Theater ($1,200).
I reviewed Polk's SurroundBar 50 in June and liked it well enough, and while the SurroundBar 360 doesn't replace the older model it's more highly evolved. First off, it's a powered system so there's no need to buy an A/V receiver to use it. And as you might have judged by its name, the new one is a two-piece, speaker and console/DVD player system. Just add a display and you're good to go.
Oh, and one more thing--you won't have to add a subwoofer--the SurroundBar 360 makes a fair amount of bass on its own. When Polk played the system I assumed there was a sub somewhere in the hotel room, but in fact the skinny speaker produced a big, fat bass sound all by itself.… Read more