Category: Sound Advice

What is Optical/Digital Audio?

If you have a home theater system and want better sound, take a look at the back of your receiver. If there is a small square input marked either “digital in” or “optical in”, you are in luck. Here’s why.

Optical Audio cables are the equivalent of HDMI cables for video (see the Truth About HDMI Cables), except they only transmit the audio channels. The cables are made up of fiber optics and emit a red glow when the signal is active. You can also read a more technical explanation. You would use one if your receiver does not have an HDMI input/output. The sound is noticeably better than using RCA cables, which are the most common audio connections found in home theater. The format was actually developed by Toshiba and has been used in many high end audio products for years. It is now commonly found in any new HDTV, and most receivers will have them as well.

It’s important to remember here, that just like HDMI cables, there is no point in spending more than $3-5 dollars on one of these cables. You can get them on Amazon, Newegg, for about that price. If you wander into a large corporate electronics store, they will try to up sell you, no doubt about it.

Check to see how your television is hooked up to your receiver. If you are using RCA cables, and you have the option to use the optical line, you will immediately notice a serious upgrade in quality. Make sure you turn your receiver down, as the signal is much stronger and will be louder, as well cleaner when it gets to your speakers.

Audio Optical Cable


10 Acts That Should Play Next Year’s Halftime Show

Wow. What else can you say at the complete catastrophe that was the Black Eyed Peas halftime show. They used to make good music, then they got popular, and now they don’t. There was nothing redeemable about the performance. From a technical standpoint, everything was off. The vocals were mixed poorly, they were far too loud. There were issues with the mics being muted at the beginning of the show, which is not a huge deal, but it sounded like a front of the house mix minus the subs. Even Slash, who was the ONLY person on stage with an instrument had to compete with the screeching Fergie, who was trying to do her best Axl impression. She tried to do his vocal impression, and his dance moves, and it did not work. Usher descended from the sky, but that wasn’t much better. The Tron outfits worn by both the performers and the dancers on the field were almost interesting. The arrows looked good. Then they tried to form a circle, which was not happening. Then the stage failed to light up, “Lo\ e”. This should be a lesson to all future halftime shows in what not to do.

The NFL needs to rock at halftime. When you think about the performances from recent memory, the good ones were rock bands. The emotional performance from U2 comes to mind, as does Prince, who was absolutely amazing. Paul McCartney, Tom Petty, The Who and even Bruce Springsteen all did manageable shows. The reason is they can handle playing in a Texas sized stadium. They bring fans onto the field, rock for 20 minutes, and leave. No one is there to see dancing, or a movie promo, or whatever last night’s performance was. They want to rock. There needs to be instruments on stage. Here are some suggestions for artists, who could redeem the name of the halftime show next year.

1. Neil Young
Neil Young would absolutely destroy the halftime show. It would be perfect. He rocks, no auto tune, and it would be a very fitting way to follow this year’s mess.
2. Jay-Z
A man at the top of his game, Jay-Z would totally deliver. He understands what it is to sound good, entertain, and keep the vibe flowing. This would be a very good show. It would also prove that you can have great hip hop and still use instruments. Check out this SNL performance if you don’t think it’s spot on.
3. Muse
Have you listened to Muse? Unfortunately they are not insanely popular, but you’ve probably heard them in games before. They rock, and can handle a big stage.
4. Rush
Loved by nerds and rock fans alike, Rush can handle the pressure of the big stage. Plus they’re all really nice and Canadian, just like Neil Young.
5. Beastie Boys
Do I even need to explain how awesome they would make this performance? I don’t think so.
6. Snoop Dogg
Snoop loves football almost as much as weed, so there’s no reason to think he wouldn’t bring his best to the stage.
7.Dave Matthews
Dave rocks a stage, and could make a halftime show incredible. His live sound is legendary, and mixed perfectly.
8. David Bowie
Hopefully it would be a rocking Bowie. The man has so many great songs, if he came to rock, it would be really special. Just about how great Prince was. Bowie could pull that off, for sure.
9. Beck
Again, great songs, great performer, great entertainer.
10. Stevie Wonder
Come on, what’s not to like? Plus, Imagine all the guests he could have joining him for amazing renditions of his incredible songs! Not that he needs any one else up there with him. He could bring the house to tears with a soulful rendition of “You and I”

There you have it, 10 acts that should play at halftime next year. What do you think?


The Truth About HDMI Cables

This holiday season, many people will be giving or getting new televisions or DVD players. When shopping, one thing that you may find is that salespeople everywhere will attempt to sell you expensive cables to connect the devices. While it’s true that you will most likely need an HDMI cable or two, there are a few things to know, so you don’t get totally ripped off.

Waste of MoneyHDMI transmits a high quality digital signal that contains both your audio and video information. It is capable of transmitting true HD at a higher resolution than analog cables. This means that you will no longer need RCA or VGB cables, and in theory, you should be able to connect all your devices with one cable.

Here’s whats important to know about digital signal. Digital signal does not degrade, so it doesn’t matter which one you buy.  Salespeople at the big box chains will try to convince you otherwise. They are either lying or misinformed.  They will offer gold plated and gas infused cables that can range in the hundreds of dollar range. You will get NOTHING more from buying a more expensive cable. Don’t believe it? Read about it Here, Here and Here.

One of the best places to get an HDMI cord is check out this one, it comes in a plastic bag, and guess what, it works perfectly.

Happy Holidays from Old Port Jingles!


Time to Chill Out

Ice Guitar It sure is getting cold here in Maine! One way we like to beat the cold is by having “jam-ins.” A jam-in is when we close the windows and doors, put on some really comfortable clothes, bust out the acoustic instruments and just play till we are feel a little less cold! In essence, it’s warming up to warm up. Similar to a sweat lodge, only way less sketchy, and way more fun! Next time you’re chilly in your apartment, try it out! You’ll be thanking us!

On another note, we will be choosing the winner of our free jingle give away contest this week, so make sure you sign up to win soon! What business doesn’t need a jingle? And the price is sure right! Click here to enter.


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