Devastation and the Dark
Hand of Doom
2012 has been a very challenging year for me. It is the love of music that keeps me going and gives me the courage to face yet another day.
I will begin with the most recent challenges and work backwards in time. Then follow with a preview of what I would like to accomplish next year.
I. December 2012 - How I foolishly killed my SACD/DVD-Audio player.
This story is a cautionary warning about cluelessly working on one's equipment.
My modified Yamaha DVD-S1700 SACD/DVD-Audio player developed a problem playing DVD-Rs about six months ago. On some tracks, usually towards the end of the disc but sometimes at the beginning, it would play the first few minutes or so of a track and then skip to the next track. Over time, this started getting worse to where it would not play any DVD-Rs at all. On the other hand, it would play SACDs, DVD-Audios, and DVD-Videos perfectly, and to be fair the player is over six years old.
I thought I would try to see if I could fix the problem of it not reading DVD-Rs, so I took the cover off and tried to get to the laser lens as I have read of people fixing disc reading problems by cleaning the lens with alcohol. I couldn't get close enough, so I used compressed air. Well, I really messed up the player as it now won't play any type of disc at all. I sold the player for parts.
So what does this mean for the future?
Thankfully I already had recorded my favorite SACDs and DVD-Audios to my computer at 24-bit 96kHz AIFF using what is called the "analog hole", analog out from my preamp to analog in on my computer utilizing Audacity's recording software program.
With the price of new SACDs going ever higher and very few DVD-Audios being released, I have made the decision to go all computer audio as I feel this is where the industry is heading, and since I don't have a working player, I thought this would be the appropriate time.
Moral of the story, if you don't know what you are doing, as I didn't, don't try to fix equipment yourself as you can make things worse.
II. November 2012 - I lost my iPod Shuffle at Sak'n Save.
This was just plain stupidity on my part. At Sak'n Save one sacks their own groceries. I was wearing my iPod as usual while I was bagging my groceries I bumped the cord and my Sennheiser earphones fell out of my ears and dangled. I continued to bag my groceries to make room for the next person, and when I finished I planned to reach down and put my earphones back in. I forgot. By the time I got to the bus stop I realized I wasn't listening to music, looked down and my iPod Shuffle was no longer clipped to my blouse. I retraced my steps and I didn't find it. I kept checking over the next few weeks, and no one turned it in. My hope is a poor kid who couldn't afford an iPod got it. If so, I feel good giving him or her a nice early Christmas present and perhaps convert them to high resolution digital as the iPod only had 24-bit 48kHz Apple Lossless music files on it.
Looking on the bright side, I have no reason not to get Neil Young's PONO 24-bit 192kHz portable player when it comes out in the summer of 2013.
III. Early November 2012 - New blog name and shutting down of my forums
In the first week of November I changed the name of my "SACD Lives" blog to "High Resolution Digital" http://hiresdig.blogspot.com/ and the focus will now be "Technological discourse concerning high resolution downloads, Blu-rays, SACDs, and DVD-Audios." I then moved most of the relevant information from the "Pro-SACD" forum to "High Resolution Digital" and shut down the Pro-SACD and Anti-CD forums. The reasons for doing this include medical problems that are keeping me from dedicating the time necessary to add new content to my forums and their sub-forums covering all the other high resolution formats. This lack of posting new content by me may have resulted in the lack of participation from my slightly over 100 members. I would like to thank all who visited and participated in my forums, and apologize for having to shut them down.
IV. June 2012 - SuperDrive in my Mac Mini quit reading and burning DVD-Rs.
I have been backing up my high resolution PCM and DSD music files using DVD-Rs over the past five years. One day in June my Mac Mini's Superdrive quit reading or burning DVD-Rs which means all the new high resolution computer files I've acquired since then are not backed-up. I am thinking of going with an external hard-drive for back up instead of physical DVD-Rs, but I can't do anything now due to my severe financial condition. It will have to wait, so I am praying my hard-drive doesn't crash until I get a chance to back it up.
V. May 2012 - I lost my appreciation of classical music, update with new possible causes.
One day in early May of 2012 I woke up and didn't like classical music or any other type of orchestral music anymore. Classical music was my favorite style of music for 38 years. I still don't understand what happened, it's like my classical gene was turned off overnight, and I can't turn it back on though I have been trying. I try to listen to a high resolution classical work at least once a month, so far without any luck of regaining my appreciation of classical or orchestral music.
I briefly discussed this loss of appreciation of an entire musical form in my article "Audio and music changes over many decades" http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue63/music.htm under the subheading "A major shift in musical taste". I've been thinking about it a lot, and perhaps "shift" was not quite the correct word, it was more of a loss rather than a shift, as I like all the same music I liked before except for classical and orchestral music "A major change of emphasis in musical taste" is what I should have said.
I have found more possible reasons for my lost appreciation of classical music. First, I may be losing the ability to follow and enjoy really complex music. My short term memory ability is diminishing. I am starting to have trouble following TV shows as I often can't remember the beginning and thus the ending doesn't always make sense. Several years ago, I was happy that I could watch a rerun and sometimes not notice it was a rerun until halfway through or even near the end. If a TV show or movie is really good I still enjoy being "in the moment," but I know I am getting less overall understanding of the message of the TV show or movie than I used to. I have been reading some of my early notes from decades ago comparing different types of music and they clearly indicate that classical music, especially in its longer forms, is a lot more complex. So I think it might follow that I now find it difficult to comprehend more complex, lengthy melodic development that is common to longer classical forms. However, I have recently listened to shorter classical and orchestral works, and still find that I just no longer enjoy the "sound" of a full orchestra. I still find the battery of percussion instruments employed by orchestras exciting when used to good effect, and sometimes I enjoy the rhythm, but I miss the lack of "beat" other music forms have.
Another possibility is what is referred to as one's "second childhood" as it seems the music I now enjoy the most is exactly the same music I enjoyed the most as a teenager, The Beatles, The Doors, The Rolling Stones, King Crimson, Deep Purple, The Who, The Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, Jefferson Airplane, CCR, ELP, Moody Blues, Cat Stevens, Donovan, et cetera. This is one reason I try to listen to an orchestral work once a month in case the new dislike of classical/orchestral music is temporary.
So for now I am listening to mostly classic rock from the 1960's-1970's and jazz from any decade, with a preference for 1950's-1960's. These are the types of music I now enjoy the most, and I seem to be enjoying them more than even before.
As my memory gets worse there may come a day when I'm not able to watch TV or movies anymore. I really love jazz and rock music, and I hope I never lose the ability to enjoy them. I go into more detail on this in the next section.
VI. Writing of all types is getting harder
Next to music, writing is what I love the most, and it is getting harder and harder to write and more time consuming. It's been years since I've written any poetry or music. I don't post as often on forums I visit as it often takes hours to compose a single post, my blogs have been suffering because of this as well. It's like the best and most enjoyable part of my life is gradually being taken away from me.
I will try to keep this from being too personal, as I believe there are personal things that one should not share with the world. I will try to limit to just what pertains to the world of audio and my abilities to share my musical and audio experiences with the world.
I've been in very ill health for the last four years. I've had many head injuries in my life; my last, in 2008, was the worst as it caused severe short-term memory loss coupled with some long-term memory loss that gets worse as time goes on. I also have a bad back which causes me to walk crooked due to spinal damage, and this is the primary reason I don't ask to review equipment often, and why I will never review something heavy like speakers. In addition, I suffer many lesser ailments which don't directly affect my ability to enjoy or evaluate audio equipment or music.
The constant chronic head and back pain is somewhat controlled with a regiment of prescription pain killers, nerve, and muscle relaxers combined with a wet paper towel on my forehead as needed. I sleep with the wet paper towel on my forehead, and when it dries out it causes me to wake up, and then I rewet it and put it back on my forehead so I can go back to sleep. It's the period between pain killer doses that are the hardest for me as I often writhe in pain so bad I can't see. The pain killers don't kill pain, they just make it less severe so I can function, but even with the pain treatment regiment I spend much of my waking hours with my eyes closed and a paper towel on my forehead while listening to music.
I have a text file where I keep all important facts about me, my life, and conditions since I can't remember even basic stuff anymore, also I have another file called "Muses" where I keep important information needed to answer posts and write articles. Plus I use Google a lot to search what I have written in the past, to spark my memory. Without the computer I would be lost.
I still can appreciate superior sound quality and can hear differences between different resolutions of digital music files. For example I recently converted my Apple Lossless 24 bit music files to AIFF using XLD because I liked the sound quality better. See: "WAV vs. AIFF vs. ALAC and Other Computer Shenanigans" http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue63/aiff.htm. If there comes a time I can no longer appreciate differences in sound quality, I will sadly have to give up audio writing.
2013 and Beyond
I should soon be reviewing Mojo Audio's Mac Mini media server during the early part of this year.
I am also hoping to acquire an external hard-drive soon for backing up my high resolution music files, I've been looking at prices and it should be around $100. Then my next project will be finding a DSD DAC I like as my collection of DSD downloads is growing. Currently I am using AudioGate software to convert DSD music files to high resolution PCM on the fly while the music is playing.
While 2012 was a very trying year for me, I am optimistically looking forward to 2013.