Archive for the ‘audio’ category

Blackbeard’s Treat

September 25th, 2011

Listen to the mix on SoundCloud

A digital music collection without The Cloud

May 14th, 2011

It may not seem particularly groundbreaking at this point in time to have a complete storage and distribution strategy for your digital music, but I feel it is worthwhile writing a post on the subject since the only solutions being pushed by the big companies involve subscriptions to their services or the purchase/leasing of overpriced lossy audio files. I want to own all of my music in genuine CD quality (16bit/44.1kHz lossless) or better. If my ISP is playing up (as it does frequently) this must not have an impact on listening to what I already own. The diagram below suggests a possible strategy and shows the acquisition, storage and playback.


The audio files are acquired in the usual manner: ripped from CDs, captured and edited from vinyl or downloaded. Note that downloading is the only part if this strategy that requires internet access which is why the link is shown in red. All other network activity requires only your home network. At this stage the files are on your laptop. I have no intention of getting rid of my physical music collection but you may wish to go medialess to save space.

Audio Codec

For true CD quality FLAC is probably the best way to go since it is has no license costs and is quite well supported. There’s no reason why you can’t also use lossy codecs such as MP3 where FLAC is not available.


A dedicated NAS device allows either the network players or your mobile phone to access the music without needing a laptop or desktop to be running. It should be able to run an FTP server and, if the network audio player requires it, an audio server. The choice of NAS should be determined by your network audio player’s requirements. For Squeezebox consider their supported NAS devices. Sonos should work with most NAS devices.

It is the contents of the NAS that you should have a good backup strategy for, which makes it the sensible place to keep all your valuable data such as photos and documents. You could use two cheap USB hard drives which in rotation are periodically backed up from the NAS and stored off-site.


The wireless router can connect to the NAS in a variety of ways. Usually the NAS will not be completely silent so I like to keep it in a different room from where the network audio players are. Ethernet-over-power is a convenient way to to achieve this if WiFi is not an option, and it can be considerably faster than WiFi.

Network Audio Player

The network player acts as a hifi component to playback your audio files hosted on the NAS. Some of the best examples are Squeezebox, Sonos or Linn DS. Squeezebox is relatively inexpensive, requires server software to be running on the NAS and potentially some technical expertise to get up and running. Sonos is slightly more expensive, much easier to set up and does not require server software. The Linn DS devices are much more expensive and require server software, but they have the potential to sound better given the right audio files and coupled with good hifi components.

Android Phone

The role of portable audio player is provided by an android mobile phone. I’ve had great results from an HTC Desire. Use an FTP client such as FtpCafe to browse your music collection and get your music files from the NAS onto the phone’s storage card. There’s finally good app support for FLAC in the form of PowerAMP music player.

The Orca Construction Site

April 15th, 2011

It’s been a long time in the making, at least as an idea, so here is my effort of a mix of Drexciya and related projects. This is the incomparable music of the late James Stinson and his part-time co-conspirator Gerald Donald who continues to record under the names Dopplereffekt, Arpanet, Der Zyklus amongst others.

The Orca Construction Site

A mix from 2002

August 9th, 2010

Here’s a mix I did eight years ago now. It was all done on a pair of Technics SL-1210 turntables, a Pioneer CDJ-100S with an Ecler mixer. The only software involved was for recording the mix and encoding it. My favourite mixes, such as this one, seem to be done on impulse after having an idea, rather than due to prior planning.

The mix contains tracks from Phonem, Bauri, Arovane, Lackluster, Freeform, Nubian Mindz, Aardvarck, Peel Seamus and Dan Curtin.


Festival of Speed 2010 Audio

July 12th, 2010

Nick Mason driving an Auto Union Type D at Goodwood Festival of Speed, taken by Bleuchoi

This year I went to Goodwood Festival of Speed again, and captured some audio of the fantastic range of cars there, just as I did last year. The audio has been edited and tagged per vehicle and is now hosted at Wikimedia Commons. If you want to hear the clips a good place to go is the Category pages on Wikimedia Commons that group the audio clips together. Here are the links to them:

Automobile sounds – roads cars, mostly supercars

Racing automobile sounds – historic racing cars

Andless – Android FLAC player

May 15th, 2010

Well it’s not quite full integration of the FLAC codec into the Android operating system, but it solves the problem of playing FLAC on an Android device. Andless is an application that does indeed play FLAC, and in my brief tests on a friend’s HTC Desire I can confirm it does quite a good job. I couldn’t detect any skipping or the presence of a gap between tracks. On top of all this it is free!

Project page

FLAC support in Android

August 8th, 2009

FLAC logoAndroid unfortunately does not currently support the FLAC audio codec but there is an effort underway to remedy this. Apparently it is not as straightforward as it should be to implement it since there are issues with both of the available decoder libraries, but in this enhancement request a contributor in comment 59 has made some patches that I hope have got around the problems and will make it into a future release of the OS.

UPDATE: FLAC is now supported natively in Android 3.1

FLAC file support enhancement request

London Storm 7th July 2009

August 6th, 2009

stormy_sunset_2On the 7th July I had got home only moments before a quite angry but brief storm front swept across central London. In the thirty seconds my window was open it was enough to need to mop the floor

London Storm 7th July 2009

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2009 Sounds

August 4th, 2009

Goodwood House 2009I’ve uploaded quite a few recordings I made on the Friday of this year’s Festival of Speed at Goodwood House. The picture on the left shows the sculpture for the festival which was celebrating a hundred years of Audi.

The recordings are on the page titled ‘Car Sounds’ which is in the right-hand navigation. All audio is in the ogg format, and handlily the latest release of Firefox comes with native support for ogg which means you don’t have to configure it to fire up an external player like you used to have to do.

Car Sounds

Sony PFR-V1

March 27th, 2008

Sony PFR-V1Trusted Reviews says, “It’s not too often that I’m genuinely surprised by a product, but that’s exactly what happened when I placed the PFR-V1s on my head. Perhaps unfairly, I hadn’t expected these headphones to sound anywhere near as good as they do, and even now I’m not quite sure how Sony has managed to create a sound as clear, full and completely immersive as this.
The unconventional design also makes for the most comfortable headphones I have ever worn – even after hours of listening I could hardly tell that the PFR-V1s were on my head. And despite the drivers being positioned a fair way from your ears, the majority of ambient noise disappears without the need for active noise cancelling or ear canal seals.
There’s no denying that the Sony PFR-V1s don’t come cheap, but that shouldn’t put off the target buyer. In fact, I’ll be buying a pair of these headphones as soon as I get paid, making the PFR-V1s a true Editor’s Choice.”

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