epos experiments, nvidia power trouble

My curious experiment in connecting a pair of hi-fi speakers with really cheap amplifier moved forward today, as I got my pair of M5s. With their polished cherry-tree, hand-made feeling they are easily the most beautiful thing I have possessed. No doubt serious high-end is something else completely, but I am happy for my ignorance. Experimenting with some nicely produced CDs (Pink Floyd, Chris Rea, some classics and other acoustic music), I finally conclude that it is not so much the T-Amp (which seems to be doing surprisingly good work) but the portable CD player I have hooked up in this bedroom extravaganza. Finally, I will give up and dig my old “heavy” system out of hibernation and plug the M5s with a decent mid-range amplifier, and hi-fi LP & CD player set (NAD & Sony). It is not only the sound quality though; the mobile equipment are designed primarily for battery use, and using them regularly indoors will conclude plugging in couple of power converters, and without remote controls, the usability just isn’t up to it. Nice experiment, though.

My other week-end operation was replacing my old PC power source with Antec TruePower 2.0 ATX 430W. But I ran out of power connectors: the Nvidia GeForce/3D Blaster 5600 FX Ultra I use seems to require its own dedicated 12V power cable, and I ran out of 12V connectors – the other free cables in Antec are SATA connectors, I suppose. Wonder if there is an adapter to use them for connecting regular 12V CD-ROM and DVD-ROM units? And the original problem remains, despite this power source update: I am constantly kicked off from WoW and other games by the Nvidia “sentinel” which claims to do this to protect the graphics card, “because it cannot get enough power”. Well, it got its dedicated cable from Antec now, and I have even plugged off all CD-ROM and DVD-ROM units for debugging this — how much more power can it demand! I am coming to suspect this is some kind of bug. Perhaps the 5600 Ultra’s bios needs to be flashed… but where to get a new bios? Questions, questions. And this is just a weekend in a life with IT. Posted by Picasa

enter the super audio?

There are many things that have happened in the digital visuals over the last years, regardless if you are looking at the new games consoles, PCs, or home theatre LCDs, plasma screens or digital projection in general. However, there is the emotionally affective field of audio, where equally interesting opportunities and developments are waiting. In many games there is already some use of surround audio, and in game types like “first person sneakers” (the style of Thief) it is even meaningfully applied to gameplay purposes. But great audio does not only consist of spatial differentiation of soundscape, it also involves high quality resolution and timbre of sound. And to reach that, you need the full sound processing chain, concluding to speakers, to fulfil certain high fidelity requirements.

There has been couple of developments going on in my home lately, as I have studied the opportunities of sound in action. Firstly, I decided to experiment by installing a decent pair of loudspeakers in my bedroom, since I enjoy listening to music while reading in bed. After making some quick compares, I ordered a black-and-dark-cherry pair of Epos M5 speakers, as I really liked their sound when testing it with a Stockfish Records Super Audio CD album (Closer to Music, a sampler worth checking out). The really interesting part is the amplifier, which is a Sonic Impact’s Portable T-Amp model TA2024, which I ordered from a net store, based on some rave reviews. It is really a toy by appearance, very small, light-weight plastic box with only one control knob; but since it has got some people so exited by its sound quality, and it is so cheap, I am waiting to get those M5s connected and make some testing.

Another process was started as my old Philips DVP-720SA broke down (a fault in the optical out, I suppose), and since there was no similarly featured model in Gigantti’s collection any more, I got my money back finally, and now am without a DVD/SACD player and free to invest. After various investigations, there are currently two major candidates left: the first is a Samsung DVD HD950, [see the manual, a 3MB download] which is competitively priced and according to some discussion forums has nice picture (via HDMI connection) and sound. But it appears weak in usability features, and cannot compete with more expensive players in image & sound quality either. The other candidate is Sony DVP-NS92, which is almost double in price, and is so new that I find no reviews, but Sony players get generally higher claims in overall quality, as could be expected, if one thinks what it the common perception of Sony and Samsung as manufacturers of quality home electronics. But I have not made my decision yet; the availability is also a factor. I have several new movies and the entire Peter Gabriel catalog in SACD waiting for the new player.