Posts Tagged 'Sony'

Happy 30th Birthday Walkman

Happy July, Happy Canada Day, and Happy 30th Birthday to the Sony Walkman. To shed some light on the technological leaps and bounds made since its advent, BBC brilliantly handed one to a 13 year old for a week to review. He (rather eloquently) delineates his experience here.

Luckily, although Sony “initially planned to call the machine ‘Soundabout’ in the United States and ‘Stowaway’ in Britain,” the term Walkman caught on quickly among consumers. In honor of the pesky little device that started it all, lets take a trip down memory road. For those among you who like to delve into model numbers and such minutiae, check out the Classic Walkman Museum.

My personal favorite was always the sporty yellow model. Remember that bad boy?

yellowwalkman

If the Walkman was the iPod’s predecessor, perhaps this commercial planted the seed for all those flashy iPod commercials.

Words can’t convey how rad it was when they came out with a “cassette player as small as a cassette tape!” Want to know more about the how? These guys do a good job explaining how the technology evolved.

Not into collecting vintage electronics or exploring historical perspectives like the young Mr. Campbell? How about using an ancient walkman to disguise an iPod and deter thieves?

Happy Birthday Mr. Walkman. We’ll always love you. Even when Apple puts your maker out of business. You have a very special place in our hearts, right next to Ferris Bueller, Fraggle Rock, and side ponytails.

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Which Microphone Is Best for Field Use?

[Note: Duane is a new contributor to Evolving Music and a new member of the MixMatchMusic family. He co-founded Mix2r.fm and is Adobe’s Senior Technical Evangelist.]

I had a colleague at Adobe write to me today about Duanes World TV and ask the following:

“Hey Duane — Can you tell me the specs of the microphone you use for your videos. The shotgun mic on your camera, that is. Thanks”

This is a complicated question as every interview I have done has had distinctly different conditions. Sometimes wind, rain, background noise ruin the audio. Nevertheless, here is what I have used to date and what I think I will do in the future.

Duane’s World is shot with an HDTV Canon HV20. This is a very compact, yet full featured camera. The shotgun mic I used in Milan to capture my colleague at Adobe is a Rodes model N3594 VideoMic. While it is good, it picks up tons of background noise. For an example of the background noise problem, check out Duane’s World Episode 2 (forward to interviews ), and here for the wind problem.

As a fix, I started using a Beyer dynamics M58, which is a professional quality broadcast mic and really good for interviews. It has a long handle which allows you to control the interview better (when you move the mic back to you, it cuts the person off). The BBC uses these too since they have a long handle you can interview people a meter away. For the difference see this interview in a noisy environment. It is highly directional and picks up no background noise. The problem is it needs phantom XLR adapter (power) so you have to buy a phantom power provider like this to plug the mic into. This uses standard 9 volt batteries (same as the Rodes mic).

For voice overs in my studio, I use the Shure SM7B which is the ultimate studio mic. This uses XLR connectors too so you need a midi device to interface with your computer. I use the Toneport UX2 which has tons of preset vocal tones and plugs into USB. This can allow you to record to Live, Cubase, et al.

HOWEVER:

None of these are the best solution. The better solution for an all around, small portable and perfect mic is a wireless/wired with long cable lavalier mic. I would highly recommend going with the XLR phantom power adapter plus two wired lavalier mics. They work in all situations. So, this is the model I am buying. The problem is that you need one of these for every person so if you are interviewing 4 people, you need 4 mics. Since most of mine are two people interviews, I will use the two mics but record each on a separate channel so I can control the volume in the event the interviewee speaks with a lower voice.

I’ll update this blog post after I experiment with the lavaliers.

Originally Posted By Duane to Technoracle (a.k.a. “Duane’s World”)

Slot Music

The record labels, and of course those standing to make a lot of money, are apparently unwilling to give up on the physical album sale. SanDisk, who has been making huge strides lately in the world of mini memory cards and cell phone integration has announced that with the backing of four major labels, EMI, Sony, BMG, and Universal, they will be selling albums in mini-SD card format. While not quite the trend we’re seeing in terms of more and more people switching to the mp3 format on players as opposed to hard copies of albums, the format here is an interesting step for the labels as they will be embracing non-DRM mp3 files on these mini-albums. You’ll buy the album in a Target or Wal-Mart, slide it into the micro-SD card on your cell phone and listen. It will be interesting to see how much this gains traction in a market place continually being re-invented to create more purchasing power at home as opposed to in-store physical sales.

5 Predictions for Digital Music Trends in 2008

After watching my Mac-obsessed friends win/lose their bets about Steve Jobs’ announcements at the MacWorld Expo this week, I feel obligated to make some predictions of my own. Plus, every self-respecting tech or music blog has to make some predictions for the coming year, right? In no particular order:

1. The beginning of the end of big record labels: With CD sales continuing to plummet and big name artists like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails cutting out the middle man in favor of a direct relationship with their fans, record labels are beginning to look a bit outdated. Probably not the best place to look for a job right now, anyway.

There are now so many ways that artists and fans can find each other online: band websites, social networking and/or music sharing communities (e.g. MySpace, iMeem, iLike), individual mp3 sales (e.g. iTunes, eMusic, Amie Street), music discovery sites (e.g. Musicovery), internet radio sites (e.g. Pandora, Last.fm) subscription services (e.g. Rhapsody, Napster), webzines (e.g. Pitchfork, Mix) etc. Furthermore, services like Slicethepie and Sellaband are paving the way for a more direct financial and emotional connection between creators and consumers.

Not to mention that artists don’t really need a label to get them started on recording an album anymore. With the plethora of affordable software and equipment available, virtually anyone can record their music at home. At this point, it seems the labels have all but given up on reviving CD sales. So, the question is can they find other ways to be profitable? What’s in store for them in their not-so-big future?

2. Music Search Engines: Several new “playable search” engines allow you to simply type in an artist name and then give you a host of options for a song/artist such as: listen to, buy, share, embed, blog, download ringtone, find tour dates, youtube videos, photos etc. Seeqpod, in my opinion, is the best service so far. Also worth checking out are Songza and SkreemR.

On the flip side, there is the concept of search based on sound recognition, which I think is likely to start catching on. Midomi, a community for music fans, uses MARS (Multimodal Recognition System) Search technology, developed by Melodis. Their goal is to “create a comprehensive database of searchable music based on user contribution”. Can’t remember the name of that song stuck in your head? Sing, whistle or hum it to Midomi, then search!

3. Music Widgets – More and more widgets, typically music players that you can embed into, say, your myspace profile or your blog, are popping up. Facebook, with its innumerable enthusiastic application creators, is of course churning out a ton of music-related apps. I think that 2008 will see not only an increasing number of music widgets but also a much higher level of sophistication in these apps.

4. Copyright Restrictions Lesson – Though still a very sensitive area, it seems there is a general trend toward dropping DRM protections. Even Sony BMG is preparing to join the other top music labels in doing so, in an effort to man up and compete with Apple and its market share.

5. Niche Social Networks for Musicians – Now that social networking has pretty much infiltrated the mainstream and everyone from grandparents to business people are hip to the concept, the industry has begun to specialize. All kinds of niche social networks have been popping up, and I predict that in 2008 this trend will gain significant momentum. With special interest groups ranging from beer lovers (Coastr) to shoestring travelers (CouchSurfing) and everything in between, clearly musicians will be trying the various music related social networks on for size. There are quite a few communities and networks for musicians out there now. Some pretty decent. Some…not so much. Luckily, musicians far and wide will soon have a place to call home.


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