• The Audio Fool

    How to drive on Snow and Ice

    • 15 Comments
    Ah, the winter storms are upon us once again. And once again, a disproportionate number of my extended neighbors are demonstrating their incompetence behind the wheel. It seems that no matter how many times the Puget Sound region gets snowed upon, people...
  • The Audio Fool

    A Lesson in Dynamic Range (or Why 32 Bits per Sample Should Never Catch On)

    • 11 Comments
    Anywhere you go, you will be able to find people who will insist that more is better. Bigger cars, larger portions, and more bits in your audio samples. But we thinking people know that there is such as too much of a good thing, don't we? I refer, of...
  • The Audio Fool

    32 bit audio redux

    • 9 Comments
    In my previous post , I don't think I explained very well why a 32-bit signal wouldn't work on the low-end. The point, I think, was well-taken on the high-end. You don't want a 192 dBSPL audio signal applied to your body (or your planet, for that matter...
  • The Audio Fool

    Of ground axes and long suicide notes

    • 9 Comments
    There's been an " analysis " floating around the 'net in the last few days from Auckland University's Peter Gutmann about how Windows Vista DRM will destroy computing as we know it. The article's penultimate soundbite comes in its Executive Executive...
  • The Audio Fool

    If you assume your users are criminals, they will be.

    • 7 Comments
    A friend recently purchased for me a copy of a game, let's call it "Society III", that he knew I'd like. I had been an avid player of Society and Society II, and Amazon was having a $9.95 special. The game arrived in a standard manufacturer box, with...
  • The Audio Fool

    Why is everything in audio measured in dB?

    • 7 Comments
    Short answer: Because the ear measures things in dB. The decibel is nothing more than a ratio between two numbers. (The unit was originally just a bel, but for audio it was more convenient to use tenths of a bel, hence the SI 'deci' prefix) Mathematically...
  • The Audio Fool

    Clipping in popular music

    • 6 Comments
    Aside from the distortion artifacts, one of the biggest problems that results from clipping is a loss of dynamic range. Remember that the dynamic range of a signal is effectively the difference between the maximum output level and the noise floor . When...
  • The Audio Fool

    More posts eventually!

    • 6 Comments
    It's that time of year, it seems. I was down with the flu last week, and I'm trying desperately to catch up this week. I promise I'll get more posts up soon. I'm doing some WASAPI playback library stuff right now and I'm just dying to do a couple...
  • The Audio Fool

    Categories of Legacy Applications

    • 5 Comments
    If you've used Vista, you've probably been exposed to the UAC dialog. It's the security dialog that pops up when the screen goes gray, and asks you permission to perform a task which requires admin-level elevation . The idea behind it is that once programs...
  • The Audio Fool

    Audio Fidelity: Clipping

    • 5 Comments
    In theory, an audio signal can take on any amplitude. There is no mathematical upper limit for how far from zero a sample can go, or how high the magnitude of a continuous wave can go. In practice, however, a digital signal's amplitude is limited by its...
  • The Audio Fool

    Feature request for the compiler team

    • 5 Comments
    I want to preface this by saying that the MS compiler team have worked wonders in improving developer productivity over the years, and can't be thanked enough for turning the C++ language into an enterprise quality platform that has lasted more than a...
  • The Audio Fool

    Interface Design and the Law of Leaky Abstractions

    • 5 Comments
    Programmers are always trying to make things simpler, usually by making them more complex. Interface too complicated? Need a bit of extra functionality? Want to work closer to the problem? Add a layer of abstraction to the code. As most programmers know...
  • The Audio Fool

    Audio Fidelity: Dynamic Range

    • 4 Comments
    I want to talk about noise for a minute. We all know what noise is, and that we don't want it in our audio. Unfortunately, noise is always present, whether we want it or not. In pseudo-technical terms, noise is random unstructured variations in a signal...
  • The Audio Fool

    My program is the most important thing on your system, same as all the others.

    • 4 Comments
    Raymond had a really good post yesterday about programs that grab your attention inappropriately . I recommend reading it. The comments have some good examples of programs, mostly updaters, that take too many liberties. Of course, I completely agree that...
  • The Audio Fool

    She said yes!

    • 4 Comments
    I would usually never bring any personal matters onto a professional blog, but in this case, I want to scream from the hills. On Christmas morning, during the unwrapping of gifts, my girlfriend Lisa became my fiancée. I'm a happy man.
  • The Audio Fool

    And for my encore... Sleep.

    • 4 Comments
    As you've almost certainly heard by now, we've finished. Windows Vista has shipped , and our mantle has passed on to the manufacturers, who now have a little over two months to stuff a hundred million DVDs into boxes and put them onto store shelves everywhere...
  • The Audio Fool

    You can't hear DC

    • 4 Comments
    Recently one of my team members found a bug in some old code while doing a code review. Our application was generating a sine wave to be rendered by the audio hardware. The sample format isn't important except to note that it is an unsigned value between...
  • The Audio Fool

    The ADD Stove

    • 3 Comments
    As you well know, people with peculiar quirks can have special equipment needs. There are plenty of examples such as ramps for those with wheelchairs, closed caption for the hard of hearing, and reality TV for the thinking impaired. Those of us with the...
  • The Audio Fool

    The Rules of Code Optimization

    • 3 Comments
    Steve Rowe recently talks about who you're really writing for when you write code. The argument he makes is essentially that your primary audience is not the compiler, but rather your primary audience is other developers. This is something I believe strongly...
  • The Audio Fool

    If it doesn't just work, then it doesn't work.

    • 3 Comments
    I'm passionate about usability, even to the point that my co-workers accuse me of whining. I can't really help it. I have to applaud products and features that streamline a task, are intuitive, and fit well into the workflow. And when a feature unnecessarily...
  • The Audio Fool

    Vista Now Available

    • 3 Comments
    After months of waiting it's released. Go out and get yourself a copy already!
  • The Audio Fool

    Audio Fidelity: Distortion

    • 3 Comments
    Distortion in audio is very closely related to noise. Both "distortion" and "noise" are used to describe unwanted components of an audio stream, so what's the difference? I already defined noise when I talked about dynamic range . But what is distortion...
  • The Audio Fool

    Quantization, Sample Rate, and Bits Per Sample

    • 3 Comments
    Forgive my digression, but I need to lay some digital signal processing ( DSP ) groundwork for what I want to talk about next. If you're already a DSP guru, then you may want to skip this one. (If you're a DSP guru, what're you reading a blog called ...
  • The Audio Fool

    What's all this 'fidelity' stuff about anyway?

    • 3 Comments
    Nearly everybody has heard the term "high fidelity". Most understand that fidelity is a desirable thing to have, and many believe that the word 'fidelity' is synonymous with 'quality'. In any casual (non-technical) setting, they are the same. But what...
  • The Audio Fool

    Audio Fidelity: Crosstalk

    • 2 Comments
    For years, recorded audio was just a signal, captured by a microphone, stored as an audio signal, and then played back by a speaker. The microphone acted as a "proxy" eardrum to hear the sounds when and where the real listener's ear couldn't be. But somebody...
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