Stevenator65’s Weblog

Technology, Commentary, Opinions, Reviews and Fun Happenings.

TuneWiki for BlackBerry

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I’ve had enough of iPhone this and iPhone that.  Let’s talk cool apps for your BlackBerry, shall we?  Gear Diary reported that TuneWiki is available for the BlackBerry.  What is TuneWiki?  It’s a website that plays music of your choice and displays lyrics.  It’s a community forum.  It displays maps that show what other users are listening to.  It may still be a beta, but it’s pretty darn cool!  Now they have an app available in the BlackBerry App Store (yes, we have one too).  It’s a free download, but you can upgrade to the Pro version for $4.99.  Supposedly the free version is ad-supported, but I didn’t see any.  So let’s give it a quick walk through…

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June 30, 2009 Posted by | Blackberry, Mp3, Opinions, Reviews, Software, Steals and Deals | 1 Comment

How To Make Free Ringtones For Blackberry

Why pay money for ringtones when you can make them yourself easily?  My guide will take you through the very easy steps.  You’ll have your own ringtones in minutes!  I’ve only tried this on the Blackberry Curve, but I bet you can use it for many types of phones.

Open up the free Audacity software.

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April 14, 2009 Posted by | Blackberry, Mp3, Tutorial, Utilities | Leave a comment

25 Greatest Albums Ever – Of All Time! Redux

in May of 2008 I created the first version of the 25 Greatest and really enjoyed doing it.  Sure, it’s a bit off the beaten path of what you normally find at this site, but many people found it interesting so I’m back with 25 more.  As before, feel free to comment on your favorites.  I’m always looking for something unique, new and different, so your contributions are welcome.

The original 25 seemed to share a theme of great musicians who died before their time.  This set features singers who would not make it to Hollywood on American Idol, yet made great rock anyway.

So now I present to you, in no particular order, 25 more Greatest Albums Ever – Of All Time!

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January 26, 2009 Posted by | Mp3, Opinions | 2 Comments

The Ultimate iPod Accessory

I’ve been thinking about my drive to work.  It’s one to one and a half hours each way.  My factory car stereo, as most, is mediocre at best, so to make my drive more palatable I upgraded the speakers.  It was pretty easy to do so, and not very expensive.  I also installed a $30 Scosche FM modulator so I can listen to my iPod.

scoshe

To install this I had to remove the receiver, plug the car’s antenna into the modulator, then plug the modulator’s antenna into the back of the receiver.  I then tapped into the power cord of my cigarette lighter for a power source.  It took about 1 hour and was fairly simple.  The FM modulator, like wireless FM modulators, converts the sound of the iPod into an FM signal.  There is a plug that connects into the iPod’s headphone jack to provide music.  This was fine for a few months, but the problem is that the FM sound band is far less broad than a cd player’s sound.  According to Crutchfield,

Answering this question relies upon two technical specifications: signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and frequency response (FR). SNR is a measure of signal strength compared to background noise in the signal or equipment. A higher number, in decibels, is better. FR is a measure of how much of the audio spectrum, from bass to treble, gets reproduced. It’s measured as a range in Hertz, and the wider the range, the better.

The FM radio, cassette player, and CD player all have different measurements for these specs. The CD player has an SNR of 90 or 100 dB, while a cassette player has an SNR of 50-70 dB. The frequency response of a CD player tends to be better too, often in the neighborhood of 10-20k Hz. Cassette players don’t deliver as much detail on the extreme ends of the spectrum and tend to have an FR around 30-18k Hz. Even so, that difference isn’t nearly as significant as the disparity in signal-to-noise ratios between the two. That’s why it is a cut-and-dry situation that the CD player sounds better than the tape player.

FM radio is restricted (by FCC regulation) to a frequency response of 30-15k Hz. Pretty similar to your typical cassette player. Likewise, the SNR of the FM tuner in a typical aftermarket stereo is similar to a good tape player: around 70 dB. When you use an FM adapter to pipe in your tunes, the music is fed into your radio over an FM frequency — the radio thinks it’s just another radio station. So theoretically, we can expect the music from our portable to sound about as good as a typical FM station.

The best sound I could hope to get out of an FM Modulator is no better than FM radio.  Though the performance is better than a wireless FM modulator, the sound is lacking in not only detail, but also is delivered with far less volume.  I often cranked my volume up to the highest level my radio offered but was not satisfied.  So I started doing some research and realized I had to upgrade my radio.

 

I looked at several receivers and settled on the Alpine CDA-9884, which was on sale at Best Buy for $180. 

Alpine

Some receivers have accessory jacks in the front, making it easy to connect mp3 players.  These provide top notch sound reproduction.  But I chose this unit because it specifically works with iPods and allows complete control of the iPod through its menu system.  I leave my iPod connected and in the glove box and can control virtually all the functions through the receiver.  It even charges the iPod.  It lets me choose genres, playlists, songs, albums and artists.  It has 18 watts per channel, which is so loud its scary.  It has many other features, such as being Satellite and Bluetooth ready, but all I care about is good, loud sound and iPod control.  This really is the ultimate iPod accessory.  My drive to work is much more fun now. 

January 3, 2009 Posted by | Accessories, Automobiles, Mp3, Technology | Leave a comment

ID3 Tag Basics

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I just read a great article at Anything But iPod that explains what ID3 tags are and how you use them.  According to the site,

“ID3 tags are basically information tags inside the MP3 file that tell the player all sorts of things. It can be as simple as artist and album or as complex as having 20 high resolution images of the cover and booklet inside the same MP3 file. Read on for a roundup of this feature and a how to on tagging your files.”

The article explains in easy to understand terms how your mp3 player uses these tags to display your music information.  It goes on to show you how to add missing ID3 tags as well.  This is a must-read if you have an mp3 player.

You can read it here.

December 5, 2008 Posted by | Mp3, Technology | Leave a comment

Do All mp3 Players Sound Alike?

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Recently I read a review of an mp3 player where the author purposely chose not to discuss sound quality because, in the author’s words, “The chosen player has a great deal to do with how you access your music, but very little to do with how it sounds…”  That got me thinking.  Do all mp3 players sound alike?  They are all digital, so it’s the same 1’s and 0’s playing the music, so how can there be a difference in sound quality?  

I have tested some mp3 players myself and have noticed drastic differences.  I have trouble believing that mp3 players don’t influence sound quality that much.  They have different components, circuitry, software and build tolerances, so how can there not be a difference?  I agree that other factors have an influence on sound quality, namely the quality of the music and headphones.  But if you test mp3 players using the same playlist and headphones, I believe you will hear differences.  This logic works with surround sound receivers, cell phones and recording equipment as well.  But that’s just my opinion.  Let’s explore a little further.

The Big Question

Do all mp3 players sound alike, or are there true, measurable differences that even the average user can appreciate? If a reviewer made a mix tape of high quality music and tested it with the same good headphones on several players, would they not notice a difference?  Read on to see what I have discovered.

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July 2, 2008 Posted by | Mp3, Opinions | 3 Comments

Finally, The Free mp3!

For the life of me I couldn’t get the WordPress media player to work. The player kept buffering and wouldn’t play the song. So I made a slideshow movie of it and uploaded it to YouTube. The photos are from my wife’s 40th birthday party. The music is from about 2 years ago at the Open Mike Night a group of us used to attend. H Allan is singing and playing the guitar, Jimmy is rhythm guitar and I’m on the drums. I’m sure other people were playing with us but I don’t remember who they were.

July 1, 2008 Posted by | Mp3, video | Leave a comment

Poll: Do You Hear Sound Quality Differences Between mp3 Players?

3FaceUp Please take a second to vote in my poll.  I am researching an article and appreciate your input.  And let us know what your opinion, and what player you’re rockin’. 

June 25, 2008 Posted by | Mp3, Poll | Leave a comment

25 Greatest Albums Ever – Of All Time!

Yesterday Yahoo! released the 25 best Best Of Albums of all time.  It was a great list, but I wanted to put together a list of the 25 best albums.  Greatest hits albums are put out by record companies.  I wanted to put together studio albums, because they reflect a time and a theme, while a greatest hits album is just meant to sell copies. 

You may notice some glaring omissions in my list.  You may see some bands you never heard of or some albums that may seem obscure.  But, hey, it’s my list, so I chose what I like.  Feel free to add your own to the list.

I present them in no particular order.  They’re just my 25 favorites.

Read on after the break.

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June 17, 2008 Posted by | Mp3, Opinions | 2 Comments

The Countdown Begins

In approximately 60 hours I will see my favorite band of all time, Rush, perform at the United Center in Chicago.  That will be the first of two shows I see.  The next one is June 27th at Milwaukee Fest.  I decided to use technology to prepare myself for the shows.  Here’s how.

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June 7, 2008 Posted by | Mp3, Opinions, Software, Windows, Windows Mobile | Leave a comment