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Real Sound

Who can remember when the Microwave oven first appeared on the scene? What about all the cookbooks that appeared specifically designed to cater for this new phenomenon. Roll forward the years and what is the microwave used for - reheating a cup of coffee or a meal which has been set aside! We all still use an electric kettle and our ovens.


Acoustics Matters #3

Musical Intelligence


Brian Maskell, Ambience Systems, New Zealand

I have had “occasion to imagine that matters that may enter the human mind were interrelated in the same fashion”. Rene Descartes, mathematician (1596 – 1650)

Once upon a time, many decades ago, I became much involved in ‘think-tanks’ – strange devices comprising of very bright people of very diverse disciplines from which small groups could be formed to create new ‘opportunity spaces’ – for just about anything.

It was a time when the Cold War dominated much of the priority setting in Western governments – and, consequently, large slices of public expenditure were involved. 

Thus, it was a priority to focus good minds on making sure that defence policy directions and initiatives adopted would prevail advantageously for some time.


Acoustics Matters #2

Making Waves


Brian Maskell, Ambience Systems, New Zealand

Waves from disturbances in water provide fish with directional and other information about such disturbances because fish are equipped on each side with a ‘lineal line’ that together might be described as ‘excellent stereo phase-discriminators’.

Interestingly, nature did not find it necessary to evolve a five-channel sensory system in order to do a good job.

Perhaps therefore the advent of multi-channel stereo systems might soon become extinct because, although they produce, initially, an intriguing experience to our brains, serious long-term listening frequently produces aural fatigue - and may cause aural brain ‘de-programming’ and thus damage to our aural and musical intelligence.


Acoustics Matters #1

Living-room listening to what conductors and musicians like to hear


Brian Maskell, Ambience Systems, New Zealand

Darwin may well have argued that once upon a time our species necessarily evolved with a highly-tuned ability to listen, most intently, to a spherical soundscape that might contain bird and animal sounds that could indicate that a leopard predator was stalking us at a certain distance and relative angle - and, of course, the vice versa use of the same ability if our species was stalking a prey.

I have often wondered whether males predominate in the intense-listening world of HiFi because there is some latent gene-driven desire to hone survival and hunting skills.

It is amazing how a jungle canopy contains and reflects animal and wind sounds to create a very efficient and useful ambience that is well-employed by the species in occupation.


Balanced vs. Unbalanced Audio

There are a lot of questions, and often confusion, surrounding balanced and unbalanced audio – What is balanced audio? Is balanced better than unbalanced? Why should I use balanced? How will balanced audio affect my system? What differences in sound quality can I expect to hear when using balanced? If balanced is so good, why isn’t everyone using it? …and the list goes on.

What follows is some insight into balanced vs. unbalanced audio in an attempt to answer these questions, ease the confusion, and explain how it is applicable today – particularly as high definition music gains popularity.


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