Say what you will, Thing

NPR did a promo of sorts for Hanni El Khatib and Nike 6.0 (extreme sports division). I’d say even more than his music, the fact that the entire music video is shot with tight spot lights & slow motion is impressive to me. And the colors. So it does intrigue me, as much as any extreme ad spot can I suppose. During the NPR interview El Khatib says something to the effect, “Find as many things as you can that inspire you, put them together, and come up with something new.” Not bad. Anyhow, I like the track “I Got A Thing” (a re-imagining of a 1970 Funkadelic song) and the colors in this video are insane.



Perhaps subconsciously I mentioned Evan’s likeness to a certain Swedish 70’s tennis pro, who as it happens, 30 years ago yesterday, had has final epic Wimbeldon match with John McEnroe. And now Borg and McEnroe are selling underwear together. So there you go. Capitalism. Everyone. Winning.

PB&J’s main label:

Long Drives

Sounds interesting.  Ben Benjamin (Ben Mullins) explains:

“It [the album] was completed in April of 2000. I made the album for myself, never expecting anyone beyond a few friends to hear it. The title is a description of what inspired it. I would take long drives on back roads to clear my head, and I couldn’t figure out what CD to play. This was before the convenience of mp3 players, and I just wanted an album that was effective in the background or foreground, allowing my attention to wander and return effortlessly. It worked for me, and it would please me a great deal if it happens to do the same for other listeners.”

Ben Benjamin - For Long Drives And Temporary Diversions

Ben Benjamin - For Long Drives And Temporary Diversions

Ben Benjamin – For Long Drives And Temporary Diversions on Ghostly International, it does pique my interest.

Perfect pour, bicycle poetry, wide boots & other inanities

Ask and you shall receive, the “perfect pour”:

A bicycle wheel zoetrope animated film via Velocanoose entitled “The Cyclotrope” as created by Tim Wheatley of Falmouth Cornwall, UK:

The Cyclotrope from tim Wheatley on Vimeo.

On a side note, the track Tim uses is from a follow up to one of the few CD’s I felt immediately compelled to go out and purchase, that is Konono N°1’s “Congotronics” which is amazing. Anyhow, the track he used is from one of the follow up albums, “Tradi-Mods vs Rockers – Alternative Takes on Congotronics”.

Tradi-Mods vs. Rockers

Tradi-Mods vs. Rockers

And, on the brightest note of all, I found double plastic high altitude mountaineering boots that fit EE to EEEE wide feet. The Koflach Arctis Expe model (eg. the Arctic Expedition), they stopped making these for a couple of years while the company was restructuring but now Scarpa appears to be selling them. I tried on just about every boot I could get a hold of and these fit the best & I paid well below retail for a nearly unused pair:
Koflach "Arctis Expe" Double Mountaineering Boot


I felt a strong need to repost this. Thanks goes to Rob Vandermark of Seven Cycles for doing the transcription, the piano composition was done by Michael Marantz, this particular edit was done by Damewse on Youtube, and of course Carl Sagan’s book Pale Blue Dot.

We were hunters and foragers.
The frontier was everywhere.
We were bounded only by the earth, and the ocean, and the sky.
The open road still softly calls.
Our little terraqueous globe is the madhouse
of those hundred, thousand, millions of worlds.
We who cannot even put our own planetary home in order,
riven with rivalries and hatreds,
are we to venture out into space?
By the time we’re ready to settle even the nearest other planetary systems
we will have changed.
The simple passage of so many generations will have changed us;
necessity will have changed us.
We’re an adaptable species.

It will not be we who reach Alpha Centauri
and the other nearby stars.
It will be a species very like us,
but with more of our strengths, and fewer of our weaknesses:
more confident, far seeing, capable, and prudent.
For all our failings, despite our limitations and fallibilities,
we humans are capable of greatness.
What new wonders undreamt of in our time 
will we have wrought in another generation? 
And another?

How far will our nomadic species have wandered  
by the end of the next century? 
And the next millennium?
Our remote descendants safely arrayed on many worlds 
through the solar system and beyond,
will be unified, 
by their common heritage,
by their regard for their home planet,
and by the knowledge, that whatever other life may be,
the only humans in all the universe come from earth.
They will gaze up and strain to find the blue dot in their skies.
They will marvel at how vulnerable the repository of all our potential once was.
How perilous our infancy.
How humble our beginnings.
How many rivers we had to cross
before we found our way.

– Carl Sagan (1934-1996)

LM4780 Balanced Dual Mono-Block Amps

Bought the dual mono LM4780 kit from Peter Daniels’ and received it in the mail the other day. I’m excited, because the National Semiconductors’ LM4780 chip package allows for easy implementation of a bridged/balanced configuration of differential (e.g. balanced XLR/TRS) inputs from professional level sources. Most “pro” grade equipment uses XLR as it allows for longer cable runs and provides a greater degree of noise and signal interference rejection.

On my EMU 0404 USB DAC I’m forced to “balun” from the TRS output into the Denon PMA-850’s RCA line input (note: in this configuration I’m using the EMU 0404 as a pre-amp as well). Sadly the PMA-850 has been blowing fuses and has started to sound muddy and as much as I’d like to pull it apart it’s full of 1970s Japanese solid state circuit technology that I wouldn’t feel comfortable playing with. The LM1875/LM3886 & LM4780 [etc] packages (aka Gainclones or Chip Amps) have a really simple circuit topology and as a result have become really quite popular over the past decade in the DIY audio community.

So I’m excited to finally do some soldering and enclosure design for this kit. Also, I was able to breadboard a slightly better power supply circuit for the EMU 0404 using a LM317 chip; I have a decent 7.5V DC 2A wall wart that I could use to feed the LM317 and then down-regulate to 5V DC 1A for cleaner audio. In my tests, using a bank of D alkaline batteries, there was a definite increase in clarity. My one concern with the EMU 0404 is whether the USB is galvanically/transformer isolated from the line outputs, as I’m sure the USB out of the Mac Mini server is not great for noise. Again, in my limited tests, the external linear regulated LM317 power supply using both USB and Toslink SPDIF inputs improved bass and high-end clarity.

Also, I’ll probably be adding some speaker toe spikes to the old Advent Heritage tower speakers. I found some cheap ones @Parts-Express, $0.48 each. Not bad.

Sam Catch's Gainclone build, Back - on Flickr

“Gainclone build BACK” by Sam_catch, on Flickr (CC License)

lm1875set4 by Nonexistence, on Flickr

“lm1875set4” by Nonexistence, on Flickr

NPR All Songs Considered –
Best New Electronic Music

A few tracks stuck out from NPR’s All Songs Considered – Best New Electronic show. My three picks are below, but you can go to the show’s full playlist here, while the embedded tracks below from NPR also require Flash.

EDIT: I’ve added links where possible above NPR’s Flash player, they’ll take you to a Safari HTML5 version on’s site of these tracks.

Danish Jatoma’s “Little Houseboat” out November on Kompakt:

UK based Mount Kimbie’s “Carbonated” from the album Crook’s and Lovers:
Mount Kimbie - Crooks & Lovers

And finally, LA based TOKiMONSTA and her badass track “Sa Mo Jung 思母亭” from her new release Midnight Menu:
TOKiMONSTA - Midnight Menu

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The ’70s are ripe. Nature, nurture and nudity. I’ve had these music videos in the back log.   First up (via Molly) Spain’s El Guincho and his track Bombay.  NSFW (Not safe for work in Protestant countries guided by God) though in Spain or Sweden you’re probably safe as it’s mostly like a disco trip with Luis Buñuel and some nude ladies.

EL GUINCHO | Bombay from MGdM | Marc Gómez del Moral on Vimeo.

This music video has no nudity and features a song by UK band Summer Camp that is cut from the classic “A Swedish Love Story” aka “En kärlekshistoria” released in 1970:

SUMMER CAMP – Round the Moon from Paddy Power on Vimeo.

Or if you prefer the band Thieves Like Us this is their music video Shyness cut to the film:


The original trailer for En kärlekshistoria will of course make you cry sad teenage Swedish tears, with Staffan Stenström singing:

And a few related links about this film:

Automated Ripping Potential & that Vintage USB Typewriter

Went to Hive 76 for their open house night on Wednesday to check out the space.  While I was there Jack Zylkin demoed his very cool Arduino based vintage typewriter > USB Keyboard hack, and it’s actually quite ingenious and cool.  There are contact relays underneath the main typewriter carriage and he uses magnets for other registers and the Arduino chip figures out the characters pressed based on time delay.  And he’s made the plans available for ‘from scratch’ DIY types under a Creative Commons license.  & who doesn’t want to carry around a 50 pound vintage type writer with their iPad?  Jack’s website is and his Etsy page [here].

Another sweet item I saw at Hive 76 was an older Sony Vaio automated DVD changer that connects via 1394 (FireWire 400).  Supposedly, using DBPowerAmp and some basic scripts it is possible to batch rip up to 200 CD’s at a time into .flac image files with good metadata and .cue sheets.  Alex Wetmore wrote several years ago, and I’m paraphrasing his sentiment here, that he had better things he’d like to do with his day, like go on bicycle rides, because the fact is that he is not a CD changer.

So the general idea is you use one of these big Sony Vaio XL1B* changers, load it up with your music, walk away from it for about 24 hours and when you come back hopefully you’ve got a hard drive full of music in a format that is future proof.  If I can actually get this to work it would be a beautiful thing, and Brendan said it was good go.

Sony VAIO XL1B* Series 200 Disc Changer

Sony VAIO XL1B* Series 200 Disc Changer

Mass .flac to Apple Lossless (ALAC .m4a) conversion

I have a couple posts going on the back burner, namely the re-foaming process on the 8″ woofer drivers from the Advent Heritage speakers I found in Greenpoint and the Mac Mini media server setup we have going now.  But first, say you want to convert all the albums you ripped to FLAC to Apple Lossless (.m4a) under OS X.  You want to know what’s easiest and quickest for batch conversion?

The X Lossless Decoder (see: XLD) is one very good option for OS X.  I find generally his application works best decoding full album single file rips from EAC with .cue sheets.  Usually with EAC you’d have three files, the .log, the .cue and the full album .flac file, XLD will nicely split the .flac into .m4a (Apple Lossless) individual files with little effort.

For larger batches, and because I used Stephen Booth’s “Max” for a lot of ripping, I find batch processing of tags and mass conversion a bit easier.  Where XLD is good on an album by album basis I found that Max was very good for converting whole directories of individual artists with multiple albums.  I find that I’m often fixing tags first in Max and then again in iTunes and then the last step is usually confirming the album art for use with Cover Flow.  It takes probably 5-10 minutes per album and it’d be faster if I had uniformity in my ripping standards.

I think ultimately, as an archive, using EAC and backing up to an image (.flac, .cue & .log) makes the most sense (but takes the longest). For playback and ease of use, unless you’re really crazy about bit perfection, I think the sound quality with Apple Lossless (.m4a) and iTunes is perfectly acceptable, especially with a halfway decent external DAC.  I’ve been using the Mac Mini as our A/V front end and the Apple Remote application for the iPod Touch works very well (over wifi)  allowing me to control iTunes on the Mini.

X Lossless Decoder (XLD)

X Lossless Decoder (XLD)

Stephen Booth's "Max"

Stephen Booth's "Max"