The loss (and rediscovery) of 14khz and the folly of compression

I am older now. We all are, but for some reason, age obviously matters more to me than you or I wouldn’t be writing about it. Right? About two weeks ago I found the following short video on Youtube. Please watch.

Needless to say, if you watched it and you are over the age of 30, you are probably quietly lamenting your youth in the back of your head. “Maybe I should have avoided the second The Monkeys reunion tour.” Yes, you probably should have, but not because it was loud.

So, I watch this video. I realize that things are going to start failing on me soon enough, but no “14khz?” I love “14khz.” My background in audio engineering hinged on my ears and even though it is not how I make a living, it still hurts. The brain started spinning, “What event could I have avoided? What should I have not done? I hate you, Tears for Fears.” I was seriously, and literally, at a loss.

So what does a good nerd with and audio background do? I know enough about how audio compression works that there was a possibility that these sounds did not exist in the recording. Digital compression can take away either “unnecessary” frequencies or, for the sake of space, snip the “tops” and “bottoms” off of sound. And that is what I think happened here. 14khz was the upper level of Youtube’s audio compressor. At least, I hoped so.

For more proof, go to site in the video, which has compressed and uncompressed sound files of the tones.

I can hear them ALL. Your results will probably improve as well. Now we can breathe.

As you cycle up the sounds, you may notice that some get softer as they get higher and that’s perfectly normal for this to happen more and more over time. But, depending on your computer sound setup, you should be able to get a better idea as to where you are in the spectrum.

Of course, if you think you have a real problem after going through this, please find a Doctor of Audiology local to you.

So as the book says, “I’m OK, You’re OK”. Back to the relaxing weekend.

Aiptek A-HD camcorder tests

Recently I have acquired the Aiptek A-HD camera. Here is a quick breakdown…

  • size of a pack of large cigarettes
  • OK looking (not so great) 720p video
  • audio is not so great
  • digital zoom is not so great
  • no moving parts
  • it was $120, so, what do you expect
  • it is, oddly, fun, and easy to use
  • I’ll have more later

As a test of a test, I uploaded the same video to YouTube and Google video. YouTube kept the 16:9 aspect ratio. Google Video looks better. We have no winners today.


Google Video

…and in the end. Gizmo, Grand Central, and Tracfone

I never realized how much I have ranted about SIP, phones, Gizmo and Grand Central. My poor wife. She has to listen to me speak about such topics – what a big ass snore.

I am proud to announce, though, that I have finally fit the final piece of the puzzle in place – the pay as you go phone.

In the last year companies, such as Virgin wireless and Tracfone/Net 10, with big players AT&T and Verizion, are publicly offering pay as you go cell services. The idea of “pay as you go” cell service is not new. The fact that you can’t enter a department store without tripping over these phones is new. They have exploded, leaving little phone droppings in average centers of commerce. And, I am here to say, the service, at least in Tracfone’s case, works darn well.

If your cell phone contract is up or coming to its end soon, I would urge you to start shopping around and paying attention to how you use your cell phones. You may find that a pay as you go service would be the best plan.

So in the end, here is a quick breakdown on how I am paying about $10 per month on phone service.

  • Get a GrandCentral Number
  • Get a Gizmo account
  • Get a pay as you go cell phone
  • Get a Grandstream Handitone 286 or similar device and an analog phone
  • In GrandCental, attach Gizmo account and cell phone number
  • Attach Handitone/Analog phone to Gizmo account

Then when your phone rings pick up the phone that will cost you the least. Hint: The Gizmo/GrandStream/Analog phone is free.

If you have a wife, duplicate everything, except forward all calls from the second Gizmo account to the Gizmo account you have the Handitone attached too, so you only have to buy one Handytone. You can do this in the Gizmo client under “Edit” -> “Call Forwarding”

The experiment is officially “done.” I have blathered on, and on, in the past about this topic. Feel free to reach back into the archives for a good aprigliano rant. Tell me what works for you…

VOIP, SIP and the Never ending Sadness
SIP vs. Skype – is there “Technical Morality?”
Grandstream Handytone 286 and Gizmo/Sipphone
Grand Central and Gizmo – First Impressions
A Contract Sickness – There is a problem in the American Cell Phone Industry