The time has come for a new
web browser for me. Yep, just upgraded to that newfangled Internet Explorer
5.0. Now before all you Netscape lovers, anti-Microsoft folks, anti-Bill Gates
followers send me hate mail, this article is not about Microsoft or
Netscape. It is about web surfing, computer using and musical fun.
Did you know that in the United States of America about 50% of the homes
have a computer! In fact more and more people are using their home computer systems
for music and movie enjoyment. Admit it, you have used that CD-Rom/DVD-Rom drive for
music haven't you? Ok, so these other people who use computers aren't vinyl
spinning, DAC using, line-doubler abusing, silver wire rolling, solder sniffing types.
Most computer users are just "normal" people who want to enjoy music (or
movies as the case may be). If we forget about reaching the highest of plateau sound
quality wise, we are seeing how people will use what they can to make their life more
In fact as i type this out here in the United States i am enjoying the
Triple M rock station streaming over the internet which is originally out of Sydney
Australia! How can i do this you ask. Well, the new IE 5.0 has this groovy
"radio" thing that allows computer dweebs like me to "tune in" radio
stations from Australia to Canada to Japan to the USA. Even a dumb Yank like me can
now enjoy international music... for free! Who knows, that Osaka Japan station has
some unique music i might decide to buy. Ya know, expand my life experience by
enjoying other cultures music. The whole point here is that because of this radio
feature we can explore music from around the world!
Why be limited to what the bloody Yanks play here in the States when i can
play the Triple M! All you Yanks reading this, well, i should tell you the Triple M
seems to play all the real versions of songs (read: adult language included).
Did you know they have Taco Bell in Sydney? Well, i do now because Taco Bell
advertised on the Triple M. Hmm... maybe there's a good surfing contest on the beach
soon? That would give me a good reason to visit Australia (and i also hear they have
a skateboard park on the beach too). Aussies rock!!!
Here's another point. The high-end is dying. C'mon, admit it.
Stereo musical enjoyment in the home is dying a slow tragic death. Maybe we
have all been part of this death by not allowing others to enjoy our music reproduction
systems? C'mon, you can tell me... How many listening chairs are in your
dedicated music room? Do you let your wife/kids use it when you are not home?
Computers, meanwhile, are gaining momentum. In fact Yahoo! magazine sells around
600,000 magazines or so monthly after only being in print a few years. Stereophile
magazine, which has been on sale for much longer then Yahoo!, sells only 80,000 a
month. Before we know it the Teletubbies will be selling HDTV, but let's not go
The whole point here is that the computer has enabled many good things to
happen, musically speaking. We can share tweaks, buy used gear cheaply and quickly,
and even enjoy some music while doing it. We have streaming audio, .mp3 files, MIDI,
and much more. Amazing how i can share my music with others all around the world
just by having streaming audio on my Enjoy the Music website. Funny, the Triple M is
playing the song "What I Like About You" by the Romantics right now. Maybe
i should tune into CHMB Canada to see what they are playing? Naaa, nothing good
comes out of Canada musically and those Aussies have some great surfing waves. Hang
loose blokes, grab a pint, and as always... Enjoy the music!
Hi-Fi and Other Ramblings
As i type this out, word just came down
this week (3/1/99) that Fi Magazine is no longer in production. While some seem to
be rejoicing, many others are saddened to see them go. As i sit here watching the
high quality, content filled TV show Jerry Springer i can't help but almost see the
relation. Fi magazine was well known for poking fun at other people and
magazines. Jerry Springer is know for outwardly conflicting views and situations
too. At least with Jerry Springer they were all in one room battling it out (with
good ol' bald-headed Steve as the main guard to safety and separation). In the end
what comes around goes around. Imagine all the "high-end" magazine editors
in one room battling it out Jerry style...
Speaking for myself, it matters not my personal opinion of likes or dislikes for
Fi. It saddens me to see another possibility of high performance audio making itself
known to the general public nixed. There are times i wish the Academy Advancing High
Performance Audio & Video (AAHPAV) did more. As a member and Ambassador of the
AAHPAV, my work goes mainly to this website and as an audio/music reviewer for many
magazines worldwide. Of course high performance is changing almost by the minute.
We have DVD-Audio Specification 1.0 just finalized, then there MLP, and just announced
at the CES '99 was high definition DIVX DVD. It is no wonder why some of my friends
are asking me should they even bother buying gear when digital seems to be changing and
needing constant "upgrades". Heck, the alphabet soup of DVD, DTS, HDTV,
AC-3, PCM, DTS, I2S, DAD, SAD, CD, MD, DAT, and DIVX is bad
enough! Add to this the low low pricing of computers and the internet.
The internet was the first place many of you reading this article gained knowledge
about the new DVD Audio Specification 1.0 or Fi Magazine news. Printed media just
can not deliver in a timely manner. Therefore it would benefit both themselves and
their readers to have a well maintained website. Maybe this was part of the downfall
of Fi since they had no website? It seems the internet and computers are receiving
more of one's time and money over the past two years. Imagine if the high
performance audio/video industry was able to have such an effect on the public as the
internet has. Alas, maybe it is too late to gain such momentum towards enjoying
simple home music and movie systems. Maybe "we" lost our opportunity.
i feel we have not lost the opportunity to make the public aware of better home music
and move systems. With HDTV we have another chance. Of course it is up to the
press and retail stores in making the public more aware of better music/audio
systems. So in the end i am asking all of you to try to share you joy of better
reproduced music with others. It matters not if it is Bach, Billie Holiday,
Backstreet Boys, Bass 305, or Butthole Surfers. Work with your local dealers and
create a local audiophile/videophile group. Get together with you local newspapers
and write a few quality articles about your joy with better music reproduction.
Simply do something to make the general public more aware. As Doc Brown said in the
movie Back to the Future "The future is what you make of it, so make it a
1998 Year in Review
1998. What a year filled with crap! If someone asked me one word to
describe 1998 it'd be apathy. A year where no one really cared about
things. Who gives a crap! Clinton... See! Many folks just don't
care... or have had enough to the point of not caring. Mainstream music?
Apathy. What did music, almost any type from rap to pop to progressive
"stand for" in 1998? Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys...
Meanwhile the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and Metallica (to name a few) made some of the
worst music in their career. Even great music like Rush's new live album Different
Stages might have been good, the sound quality was horrible! But who cares, it
still got great reviews in mainstream press. Still not convinced how bad 1998 was?
Does Marilyn Manson make ya happy? Posers, WWF, NASCAR... Great
underground bands like Offspring are now considered mainstream and, alas, their new albums
sounds like it too. But who cares right? Some bean counter figured out as way
to capitalize on what was once great underground bands. No one cares about great
music anymore, right? Good packaging, a pretty face, some groovy promotion...
Apathy. Did music have any real messages this year? Damn, where's Rage Against
the Machine when ya need 'em? Alas, they had no official album release for 1998.
Not to worry because the same can almost be said about the media and corporate America.
Media-wise, print is virtually dead. Maybe i'm overstating things here, but
those web savvy folks know that print is doomed. Why wait days, weeks, or in the
high-end, months for information? On the web you have it now. i mean right
now! POOF! There it is. Of course humans still like to have a
physical medium so we will continue to see trees killed and magazines printed for years to
come. Don't worry, you bathroom readers will still have something to use for one
purpose... or another. Corporate America, on the other hand, is busy with internet
interests of their own. 1998 was a great year for the internet. E-commerce
anyone? Of course this has caused a backlash too. Microsoft, AOL, Netscape,
Intel, Cisco... i'll avoid the geeky computer stuff and simply say that even the
"high-end" is becoming more computer oriented. Don't believe me?
Well, here's why.
Question: What was the only really big buzz in the "high-end" this
year. DING! Correct! 24-bit/96kHz audio. Guess what that is.
DVD you say? DING! Correct. Guess what my friend, DVD is really
just a high density storage format many computer geeks are rejoicing over (including me).
But now the apathy of DVD is added with corporate America. It has been a LONG
time and still no official DVD-Audio standard as of this writing (1/2/99). Well, it
is not the bit depth or sampling rate in question. No, that has really been settled.
Did you know that most of the ink in the DVD-Audio specs have nothing to do with
bit depth or sound quality, but more to do with protecting the data! It is
Corporations wanting to protect their truly unprotectable digital data that is the huge
holdup. Meanwhile we internet folks have gotten angry, wise... and .mp3.
Anyone keeping up with the very influential .mp3 internet music format wars knows the
score. Sadly, this also tells you that people care less about sound quality too
since .mp3 files can't compete with 24-bit/96kHz audio format. So it is apathy in
the general public's eye, er, um, ear, about higher resolution audio.
So what is in store for 1999? Like we give a sh.., er, um, darn? Heck no!
We're too busy concerning ourselves over Y2K problems right now. Please get
back with us after the year 2000. So as apathy is at an all-time high, i say this is
the time to attack my friends. After all, no one will care how many people you rip
off, lie to, women you cheat with on your wife... As long as you are doing a good
job (or have the "spin doctors" see it that way) you're doing great. Who
cares if we get bought out and then, in turn, the people who bought them out get bought
out themselves? The spin doctors say all is well. So forget all this junk
above, 1998 was a great year. Thank you sir may i have another?
Please just think about it:
We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then
another. Then we are frustrated that the kids aren't old enough and we'll be more content
when they are. After that we're frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We will
certainly be happy when they are out of that stage. We tell ourselves that our life will
be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, are
able to go on a nice vacation, when we retire. The truth is, there's no better time to be
happy than right now. If not now, when?
Your life will always be filled with challenges. It's best to admit this to yourself
and decide to be happy anyway. One of my favorite quotes comes from Alfred D. Souza. He
said, "For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life.
But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some
unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At
last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life."
This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness. Happiness is
the way. So, treasure every moment that you have. And treasure it more because you shared
it with someone special, special enough to spend your time...and remember that time waits
for no one...
So stop waiting until you finish school, until you go back to school, until you lose
ten pounds, until you gain ten pounds, until you have kids, until your kids leave the
house, until you start work, until you retire, until you get married, until you get
divorced, until Friday night, until Sunday morning, until you get a new car or home, until
your car or home is paid off, until spring, until summer, until fall, until winter, until
you are off welfare, until the first or fifteenth, until your song comes on, until you've
had a drink, until you've sobered up, until you die, until you are born again to decide
that there is no better time than right now to be happy...Happiness is a journey, not a
"Thought for the day:
Work like you don't need money,
Love like you've never been hurt,
And dance like no one's watching..." -- Crystal Boyd
Enjoy the Music.