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Comment: Re:The difference isn't the card. (Score 1) 473

See here's the thing. You changed something in you system and you think it "sounds better" and your wife agrees.

Well, what about it was better? Did you change it back to see if the change reverted? Did you then test your perceived changes with any kind of quantitative testing equipment?

What you have recounted thus far is about as reliable as those commercials on TV for the "gambler's charm" where they have a person say they "felt much luckier" with it. And this is a typical audiophile recount.

I once knew one of these folks that paid $500 for a standard IEC power cable for their preamplifier. I reminded them that the wiring in the wall of the apartment was shit, but he insisted he could "feel" the difference, though it was not describable in any way past that.

Comment: Re:... and acoustic treatment (Score 1) 473

There are differences, it's not all smoke an mirrors.

The first time I really noticed a low-quality external converter was when I purchased a replacement from brand X. Their new converter did not sound right to me at all. A few minutes with the scope showed me why, slew rate was so bad it couldn't pass a 1khz square wave without significant slewing.

A client of mine had another box from this company, using it as a microphone input. The analog circuitry was very very bad. Once you got the mic up to the appropriate gain level (for close-up speaking), the noise floor came up to maybe -30dBfs or so. This is one of the cheaper units, around $200.

I have recorded in studios with "the best of the best" in recording gear. There is a lot of pseudo-engineering and trickery around many devices, but there definitely are a lot of shitty intro-level ADCs and DACs. Mandy of these intro-level devices are basically what is inside your PC, including cheap chinese-made switching power supplies near the analog i/o, maximum-compactness PCB layout, etc.

I won't argue about "gold monster cable" or similar smoke, but with these external "sound card boxes" there definitely are differences. Some are noticeable, some only in specific situations would bother anyone, and some are just marketing.

Comment: Re:The difference isn't the card. (Score 1) 473

I'll bite.

The cables do not make a difference. Considering the level of thermal noise and the difference between, say, 30 AWG wire and 16 AWG "monster cable" (we're talking about low-level shielded cable, right), the monster cable "difference" is below thermal noise.

If you are "hearing" the difference with better cables, you are most likely hearing the money and not the electrons. Not to say that there aren't such a thing as sub-par cables, but monster cable vs OEM pc cable, for consumer-line-level, please...

Prove me wrong, I dare you.

Comment: Inside the PC case? Forget it (Score 1) 473

If you really want low noise (perhaps you dislike noise or are planning to amplify the sound to very loud levels), you do not want a sound card inside a PC case powered by a PCI bus. Forget it.

Look for something that runs over USB with its own power supply. Or get an external DAC that takes SPDIF or TOSLINK from a motherboard -- motherboard digital outputs are just fine of course.

If you are really (or ever did) considering plopping down hundreds for a PCI sound card.... sorry, you bought in to the marketing.

Comment: Re:How did she get these figures? (Score 2) 394

by gnu-sucks (#47255247) Attached to: Cable Boxes Are the 2nd Biggest Energy Users In Many Homes

The point of the article was that these boxes consume almost as much energy as a washing machine. That is definitely wrong. The article did not measure power consumption of either device. 500 watts is not how much current a DVR of any type consumes. I have a computer here at home that has 14 Xeon cores and a high-end graphics card. It doesn't even consume 500 watts, and yes, I measured it.

The article is a typical alarmist article with a misleading title.

Big energy consumers in homes: Electric dryers (1-2kw), lighting (1kw for a home), electric water heaters (1kw), electric ovens (1-2kw), coffee machines (800W-1kw), toasters/toaster ovens (500w), Vacuum cleaners (500W-1k), Hair dryer (500W), TVs of any type (200W-500W), computers (100W-800W), air conditioning (1-5kw). Each of these devices uses easily 10-50 times as much as a cable box/DVR. Only some of these devices are left on all day or for a significant portion of a day, but they all consume more than a STB/DVR.

Comment: Re:Nice Synergy (Score 1) 347

by gnu-sucks (#47249977) Attached to: Congressman Asks NSA To Provide Metadata For "Lost" IRS Emails

I expect that with a two-party system every single official in government has a political party affiliation. This is nothing new.

What I do not expect is for them to intentionally target groups which oppose some party they are adherents to. This is in direct contradiction to their job description, and of course, to the constitution.

What do I expect? I expect them to do better.

Comment: Re:Nice Synergy (Score 4, Insightful) 347

by gnu-sucks (#47249865) Attached to: Congressman Asks NSA To Provide Metadata For "Lost" IRS Emails

There's nothing "stupid" about naming a political party with a political name.

It's a real scandal when the party in power can leverage tax exempt status, or any other "treatment" from the IRS. You can agree or disagree with the political opinions or positions of these parties, but you must never use political power to prevent another party from gaining traction.

That's more than a scandal, it's pure simple corruption.

You'll probably reply with something political now, such as that you don't like the tea party or Romney or something. Totally irrelevant, save it for a real political discussion.

Comment: Espresso at NASA (Score 1) 192

by gnu-sucks (#47245351) Attached to: How To Make Espresso In Space

I don't know about in space, but here on Earth, I work at a NASA center and we have one of the best "underground" espresso clubs I have ever seen. Very sophisticated engineering techniques have been applied -- our machine gets serviced in the NASA machine shop sometimes.

You should see that place near launch deadlines. Poor grinder never gets a break!

Comment: Re:Ridiculous summary (Score 1) 267

by gnu-sucks (#47181941) Attached to: Why NASA's Budget "Victory" Is Anything But

Here's the thing though, the president sets the priorities for NASA.

NASA then gets a budget.

Then, NASA has to cut existing programs in order to execute the presidictactor's NASA goals. This kills off projects that have been years in the making. Or kills off projects that are already in space and now don't have the funding to take data.

So there are certainly benchmark levels of funding that would be appropriate to help NASA maintain and not waste it's current projects.

(Also, there is the political challenge of trying to fund missions that aren't in-line with the current administration's policy or desired image...)

Prof: So the American government went to IBM to come up with a data encryption standard and they came up with ... Student: EBCDIC!"