Posts Tagged: Home Listening Experiences

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

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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 Newegg.com. check out this one, it comes in a plastic bag, and guess what, it works perfectly.

Happy Holidays from Old Port Jingles!

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Monitor Maddness!

Old Port Jingles monitorsIf you’re into home recording, you may have a pair of reference monitors that you use to balance your sound. Hopefully you have something better than your computers built in monitors. If you are looking to improve your desktop, M-audio makes great entry level monitors that range in prices to fit pretty much any ones needs. If you’re just getting started check out the AV-40’s. These 40 watt speakers give a pretty decent sound with their 4 inch speakers. They can be found for $150-$200 brand new and are a great place to start. If you can afford it, and you’re looking for something a little more professional, try the M-Audio BX5a’s. They are the current monitor of choice here at Old Port Jingles, and they sound amazing. They feature balanced XLR inputs, and pump out 70 watts per speaker of delicious ear candy. They will set you back $300-$400, and from what we’ve seen, appear to be the best bang for your buck. For balancing, get the optional sub-woofer with the on/off foot switch.

One thing that is important to do is make sure your speakers are at the correct height. Invest in speaker stands if you don’t have any. You want stands that are solid. In some recording studios, they use granite pillars that are buried into the ground to eliminate vibration! Your speakers should be at ear level, and about as far apart as you are to them. Think of a triangle, and make your head one of the points. Be sure that there us nothing that can block the sound on it’s way to you. Also, to avoid bouncing, place your desk 1-2 feet from the center of the wall, and try to work in a relatively square area. If you can do these simple steps, you will notice an immediate increase in sound quality for your home recording and mastering.

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Home Theater Tips

So you’ve bought a brand new HDTV and you’re hooking it up to a new or pre existing sound system in your home. Here a are a couple of things that will help you get the most out of your home audio system.
speaker layout 5.1
Speaker Placement
Try to separate your speakers so that you will be able to hear the left and right channels independently. Ideally, you have a rectangle shaped room, with a couch either on the wall, or in the middle of the room. The problem with most home theaters, is that the sound is only ideal for one person. The larger the room, the better the sound for crowds.

Listen Up
Really take the time to listen to your system once you have placed your speakers in an ideal fashion. Remember that television may sound different from movies, and music. A good way to test out the quality and settings is by listening to a concert DVD that is high quality and mastered in 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound. That way, you will be able to hear each channel, and adjust accordingly.

Don’t Blow It!

Speakers are not optimized when played at maximum levels. If you are hearing signal degradation in any speaker, adjust it’s settings. Take some time and read the manual that comes with your receiver. There’s excellent advice in there that will help you learn all about finding the sweet spot in your room. There’s almost no guaranteed approach to making this work, it can take a lot of trial and error, but in the end, hopefully you love the sound coming out of your home theater.

Remembering these easy steps is just a start, but it will help you on your journey to find the ultimate in home sound design.

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Get the Most From Your Music

Here at Old Port Jingles, we LOVE music. We listen to it all day, and have been studying it for years. Here are a couple of tips to get the most out of your listening experience.

If you’re using digital media, know your format. While MP3’s are convenient because of their size, you lose a lot of quality. If you are converting your cd’s to MP3, adjust the bit rate to at least 256vbr, if not 320. These files will be larger, but they are the best quality you can get with an MP3. The best thing you can do if you are converting your cd’s to a computer, is to use a lossy or lossless format like FLAC, WAV, or AIFF. These formats are closer to the true uncompressed way that the music is meant to be listened to. Interestingly enough, records are still the most optimal way to experience the best sound.

old port jingles rick astley

...And you will want the best quality for this.

None of this really matters if you are going to be using low quality speakers or ear buds. If you really want optimal sound, you will definitely see a noticeable upgrade with a set of nice speakers. Here’s a tip, just because they cost more, it doesn’t mean they are better. Read online reviews to find out what will work best for your situation.

One more thing you may want to consider is how you are playing your music. What device are you using to mostly listen to it? How do you listen to music?

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