Thursday, February 26, 2015
That's not what net neutrality is, and it's certainly not what the government regulations promulgated by the FCC today are, in this case "Common Carrier Rules".
People who don't know any better are celebrating todays faux "net neutrality" FCC action as a victory for freedom and free speech on the internet, when in fact, it's exactly the opposite.
I've written extensively about net neutrality and this is very much NOT it.
All the FCC has done today, is impose common carrier regulation on every ISP (oh and by the way, lots of other organizations as well who "provide internet access". No-one has any idea how the regulations are going to be finalized, what the language will mean, who will be impacted and how... except everyone knows it's going to cost a lot), instead of just the telephone companies it was already imposed on. Verizon for example, who was already one of the worst violators of net neutrality, even with common carrier regulation already in place for them.
Thus it makes competition and breaking of existing monopolies even harder, while not actually doing a damn thing to secure or improve neutrality... oh and it gives the FCC more control over the internet.
Absolutely none of those are good things.
Common carrier regulation is a big part of what made the current near monopolies on Internet access happy in the first place, because small independent companies couldn't compete with the giant Telcom conglomerates under those regulations. So, they all got swallowed up.
I've been working with telecommunications companies, and common carrier regulations, for more than 20 years. I'm an expert in governance and regulatory compliance, and I can tell you right now, NOBODY understands these regulations, because they are not capable of being understood.
These regulations and the rulings and case law associated with them go back to 1930s... and in some particulars all the way back to the 1870s. And of course, rather than replace them with something clear when they wanted to make new regulations, congress and the FCC just amended and added on and countermanded and...
I've flowcharted them before to try to see what applied how and where and when... the only thing I could come up with was "nobody knows for sure, it all depends what a regulator or judge says at the time".
This wasn't a blow for freedom and free speech... This was a giveaway to big corporate donors in the telecommunications industry.
The big telcos have been trying to get their primary competition, non-telco ISPs, burdened with the same regulatory load they labor under, for DECADES. Now, in one stroke, the FCC at the personal direction of the president, has given it to them.
Oh and guess what else common carrier regulation includes... SURVEILLANCE. All common carriers are required to provide the government and law enforcement "reasonable access" for surveillance, as well as to give up records, usage details, and other subscriber and user data, WITHOUT A WARRANT.
What does "reasonable access" mean? Whatever the government says it means... and if you think I'm exaggerating, I'm not. I've dealt with the FBI on this issue, and that's a direct quote.
Yes, this is not only a massive corporate crony handout, it's also a huge gimme to the FBI and the NSA, who have wanted all ISPs stuck under common carrier for years as well.
Stop calling government regulation of the internet "net neutrality". Letting the liars control the language helps them lie to you.
Net neutrality is not government regulation, and these regulations are certainly not net neutrality, nor anything like it. Don't be taken in by fraud, cronyism, and statism, masquerading as freedom.
I don't know about anyone else, but I can tell you the exact moment I decided I had to learn to play guitar: July 3rd 1985, at about 3:45 in the afternoon.
It was a particular song, played in a particular way, in a particular context. I'd heard the song many times before, but this was different. This was... powerful.
It hit me in the gut, grabbed me by the balls, and said "YOU WILL DO THIS".
Unfortunately, my mother didnt think I was old enough for my own guitar yet (I had been taking vocal, piano, and music theory lessons for several years already by then). She made me wait...
Maybe she was hoping I would change my mind, since my dad played guitar and she had some bad memories and associations there. She aways wanted me to play sax, which I started learning as a kid, but the reeds gave me mouth sores so I had to stop, and I had the same problem when I tried to learn trumpet (in retrospect, we were pretty poor that year, and the next couple years, and you could rent used band instruments for a few dollars a month but not guitars and amplifiers).
So I spent the next four years and five months messing about with other people's acoustic guitars, in my music classes, and family friends and friends, and anything I could get my hands on... before my mother finally bought me my own electric guitar.
Those years of messing with other people acoustics, and never knowing what tuning they'd be in, or whether theyd be in tune, or what the strings would feel like; imprinted on my so much, that every time I pick up a guitar, I automatically finger and play an augmented open G chord.
I play the augmented open G, because it let's you hear the relative tuning and intonation of every string clearly and immediately, and highlights any defects in the guitar and it's setup. It also sounds good arpeggiated, and several songs can be played within the arpeggiation.
Still today, my fingers just automatically reset to that position by default, whenever I'm not specifically playing anything else... and it's almost always the last thing I play before I put the guitar down, just by reflex.
My first guitar was a bright red Epiphone Stratocopy (an sm-3), purchased Christmas of '89 from Daddy's Junky Music, in Boston Massachusetts.
I very much wanted a Strat', very specifically because of two other songs, and two other players... again both of which grabbed me and said "you will will do this".
Those two songs ended up being the first rock songs I ever learned to play... That first song, that grabbed me back in 1985, was quite a lot harder, and took a lot longer to learn... and hell, I still can't play it "right" more than 25 years later... I don't think anybody can play it quite right, except for the true original.
So, I guess I can credit five... well, really six... people (all but one were guitarists), and three songs, with making me absolutely need to play electric guitar.
If you're a guitarist, or a music nerd, I'm sure you know what those three songs are and who three of those guitarists are, without even thinking about it.
The other three people (two guitarists) in question might be a surprise, but the answer is in that date above.
Anybody want to guess who those people are, and what the songs are?
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Unfortunately, that's a very harmful idea.
There is no such thing as "just a red dot"
Yeah, sure, you absolutely can save money going with a red dot type sight over a scope... A top quality Red Dot is a LOT cheaper than a top quality scope.
And frankly, for most of the rifle shooting that most people do (plinking and casual target shooting, possibly some short range competition shooting; even hunting at 100 yards or less... which in most of the country, is most hunting), a 1x red dot (or holosight or similar), or even a 2x or 4x red dot, would be better for their needs than a traditional scope anyway.
That's another piece for another day... but I really do think that most of the shooting missions, most people are buying most scopes for; would be better served, for less money, with a quality 1x-4x dot sight (either in tube, or with a magnifier).
So how much exactly is "a lot cheaper"?
All these numbers are current as of February 2015. I may update this later on,"acceptable" and "good" price points have fallen significantly over the last 20ish years, and particularly in the last 5, as higher precision higher quality manufacturing has become more widely available and less expensive).
Red dots are generally somewhat less complex designs than scopes of equivalent quality; requiring less, and less expensive, materials and manufacturing technologies and processes. This generally results in a lower price for a given quality of optic.
You're talking about $150-600 for a decent, tough, reliable, precise, and repeatable Red Dot (Something like Vortex StrikeFire to Aimpoint or Trijicons mid range sights); up to around $1,000-$1400 at the top end (with some outliers up to around $3,000).
With traditional multi-lens reticle in tube optics (scopes), you're looking at around $300-400 for the lower end of decent, tough, reliable, precise, and repeatable; moderate to high magnifications scopes. Possibly a bit cheaper ($200ish) for acceptable lower magnification, less precise, less "tough" applications, and climbing up to around $2500-$3,000 on the high end, with some outliers in the $3500 to $6,000 range (Schmidt & Bender or U.S. Optics for example).
That list of qualifications... decent (meaning reasonable quality design, materials, manufacturing finish etc...), tough, reliable, precise, and repeatable... is rather important. Critical in fact.
Those are the basic properties you need from any sighting device in order for it to be useful, and provide value, no matter what the purpose or mission you're trying to fulfill.
A sighting device that isn't decent, tough, reliable, precise, and repeatable, is actually HARMFUL to whatever you are doing. You're better off without it, than with it, no matter how little it costs, and what capability it seems to provide.
Of course, that's rather a broad price range, but still, with both scopes and red dot sights "you get what you pay for" generally applies (there are some exceptions of course).
While there are times you do pay a premium for "name" or reputation to an extent**, if you need the capabilities the better brands or product lines provide, they really are worth the money.
** Yes...Some manufacturers in particular charge premium prices for midrange product, or too high a premium for high end; thus you can get better optics with other brands for the same money, or as good for less. And of course, the reverse is true. There are some brands well known for giving you much more for your money than other brands at the same price point, or the same capability and quality at a much lower pricepoint.
Which are which? That's another piece for another day.
Hit the floor...
Most importantly regarding price, there are very definite price floors for acceptable quality optical sights.
Most people with even a bit of knowledge and experience, understand this price floor applies to scopes. They don't expect a scope you buy in a blister pack at Wal Mart to be very good, or even "acceptable".
Unfortunately, many people (even many of the same people who seem to understand the concept of a price floor for scopes) don't seem to understand that price floors apply just as much to red dots as to scopes.
No-one with any knowledge or experience in firearms optics, expects a $50 or even $100 scope to be much good... and generally $150-$200 is just into the "acceptable" range (Redfield, low end Vortex, low end Nikon etc....).
So why do they expect any better out of a $50 or $100 red dot? A red dot you can buy in a blister pack, isn't going to be any better than a scope you can buy in a blister pack.
Red dot optics are every bit as much precision optical instruments as scopes are... They're just somewhat simpler designs, using less of the most expensive components and manufacturing processes.
Simpler and less, not "simple" and "inexpensive".
There is just a minimum level of materials and design quality, labor, manufacturing, and quality control, to produce an acceptable optical sight of any type. These don't change, no matter how simple the optic is, how short a range it's intended for, how big a dot or tube etc...
Specifically, there are very definite minimums for quality of adjustment mechanisms, sight barrel/tube/body materials and machining, lenses (even in a 1x optic), lens mounting, adhesives coatings and finishes, skill and precision of assembly, tolerances and clearances, and quality inspection and testing.
These are real minimums, that apply to ANY optic of any type or design.
One flat plate of glass with no magnification, and an adjustment mechanism that's repeatable to under 1 moa (and preferably under 1/4 moa); that will take a slight knock on the sight, being adjusted a few hundred times, and getting lightly rained on, and which will still stay precise and repeatable for years (a c-more sight isn't much more than that really); is going to cost nearly as much as a 40mm 2-6x zoom that can meet those same criteria and standards.
The expensive part isn't the materials, it's the manufacturing processes, labor, and quality control. That's probably more than 80% of the cost of ANY optic, no matter what its design, or where it's made.
These minimums go up... sometimes WAY up... with more difficult mission requirements, but they never go below that absolute floor. You can't go below those minimums, and still be decent, tough, reliable, precise, and repeatable.
Right now, that floor is pretty clear, and it's around $150-$200 for "acceptable" in a lower magnification scope, or not quite so tough red dot; and $300 to $400 for "good" in a lower to medium magnification scope, or somewhat tougher red dot.
What do you get for your money?
More money tends to add more precision in the optics and adjustment mechanisms, more toughness, and higher quality materials, coatings, and finishes.
Less money on the other hand, generally results in an optic that won't hold zero, won't have consistent and precise adjustments, won't return to zero after adjusting, and won't take any rough handling without breaking... Or even just breaking on its own for no reason.
Really... Just don't do it. It's a waste of money. You'll end up buying and breaking 3 or 4 of the things and hating it the entire time; while spending far more than an acceptable or even a very good optic would have cost in the first place.
So who makes "acceptable" or "good" optics at a low price?
The least expensive optics that I have generally found acceptable or better, are:
- Nikon: Monarch or higher are good to excellent, limited lifetime warranty
- Redfield: Great quality, low price high value, some USA made, and a 100% lifetime warranty
- Burris: Excellent quality, great value, some USA made, and a 100% lifetime warranty
- Vortex: Diamondback or higher are good to excellent quality, good to great price and always great value, some US made, and all have a 100% lifetime warranty
- Leupold: Good to excellent quality, good to terrible price leading to anywhere from great to poor value, sometimes erratic but generally excellent customer service, all USA made, and a 100% lifetime warranty (they also own Redfield)
- Nightforce: Higher priced line ($800 to $3,000), but also among the best quality in the world, and among the lowest price for the quality and capability they offer. As good as optics costing 50% to 200% more. All USA made, with excellent customer service, and a 100% lifetime warranty.
IN GENERAL... and this is a big generalization with exceptions... Regardless of the brand name an optic is sold under, if that optic is manufactured in the U.S., western Europe, or Japan, it's going to be "good" or better. Frankly, with the cost of manufacturing products in those places, it doesn't make sense not to.
However, even the "premium" brands sometimes have factories in eastern Europe (particularly Poland and the Czech republic), the Philippines, Indonesia, Viet Nam, Thailand, Taiwan, Korea, Sri Lanka, and increasingly mainland China.
These are sometimes owned and operated directly by the companies in question, and sometimes they are very high quality, usually long term, subcontracting deals with excellent third party manufacturers.
So... fortunately for lower prices, higher quality and more competition... but unfortunately for figuring out what to buy (or what not to)... While where it's made, is often a positive indicator of quality, it isn't necessarily an indicator of a lack of quality.
Don't discount something just because it's made in China (or anywhere else). Process, technology, materials, and quality control are all more important than nation of origin. Some excellent optics are coming out of China (and everywhere else), at very attractive prices.
Sadly, brand name isn't always an indicator of quality either, because some major brands with excellent quality product lines, also produce lower priced lower quality product lines (or worse... more on that later).
Some companies may even subcontract out their lower cost product lines to lower quality OEMs (more on that below). For example, some Nikon ProStaff, and I believe all Vortex Crossfire line optics, are not actually made by Nikon or Vortex (other companies do this as well, I'm just using these two as an example).
As of 2014, I believe those product lines are subcontracted out to a Chinese company, who also make optics for NCstar, Barska, Bushnell, Tasco, and other low end brands (and sometimes including what seem to be the same or similar designs... Or at least visible external design).
The optics manufactured for Nikon and Vortex are definitely manufactured to higher quality standards than those for low end brands, but not to the same standard as Nikon or Vortex's in house manufactured product lines.
What about other brands?
Here's the thing... You never know. Sometimes you're going to get a great piece for a great price, sometimes not so much.
I have seen some of the Mueller, Millet, Weaver, Leatherwood, Tasco, Bushnell etc... (name brands which are licensed and OEM contracted out to offshore manufacturers) scopes be good or even excellent... and I've seen another scope from the same "brand", at the same price point... even at higher price points, be unacceptable.
In fact I've seen two examples of the same model vary from "pretty good" to "total junk.
And these aren't all low end, low price models. Millet scopes run from $150 to $500. Some Weaver models run as high as $1,500 etc...
In my experience, and those of many I know and trust; some of those $500 to $1500 models have been excellent... Unfortunately, some have been just OK, and some have been entirely unacceptable.
The problem, is that Millet, Mueller etc... aren't actually made by Millet and Mueller. Either they contract production out to offshore factories (usually on a per production run basis, but sometimes on a long term year to year or multi-year basis, which usually results in higher quality), or an offshore manufacture pays the name owners for the right to make scopes with that name.
It can work both ways, sometimes simultaneously, and through multiple levels of naming rights licensing, subcontracting, or both.
Land of confusion
Bushnell is a prime example of the confusion this can create.
First, Bushnell is the parent company of Simmons, Millet, Tasco, Browning and Bausch and Lomb (for rifle scopes and binoculars only).
Their lower end lines generally run from junk, to just barely "acceptable". Their "elite" line theoretically their top of the line best quality optics. However, the elite line consists of 40 someodd models with different features and specifications, and spanning a price range from $200 to $2,000.
The biggest issue is however, that all Bushnell scopes (and any of their other brands) "Elite" or otherwise, are contracted out to different manufacturers on a model to model basis, and sometimes even a production run to production run basis. The same model may be manufactured by three different companies in three different years, in three different countries, and with three different resulting quality levels.
As a result, the "Elite" line end up ranging in quality from "acceptable" (I haven't seen one yet that wasn't at least acceptable), to truly excellent. Bushnell's higher end Elite models are generally made in Japan, by two of the worlds best optics manufacturers, to the highest standards; or in Philippines Sometimes, if one of those manufacturers has excess capacity, they'll also make some of the lower end models, or they'll have extra top quality components, which they'll send out to be put into lower level product lines.
It's the system man...
This system of contract manufacture and licensing, is how the EXACT same design can be sold under a dozen different brand names from NCstar and Barska, to TruGlo, Tasco, and Bushnell, at price points from $29 to $89.
Sometimes... sadly, frequently... those widely divergent price points are for the exact same product, with the same materials and quality control, just a different brand name stamped on them.
Sometimes, for a higher price you actually get the same design, but with better materials and quality control.
Sometimes for a higher price you get the same external design, but with better designed internals, and higher quality of materials and manufacturing.
Worst of all, sometimes the same brand name and model number, sold at the same price, will start off very high quality, and over time, be reduced in quality, without reducing in price.
So, you might get a great example from one of these contracted brands, or you might get junk. You won't know until you actually get it into your hands, and test it (by shooting the square repeatedly to test for return to zero, and ability to maintain zero with recoil for example). If they have a great warranty and return policy... great. If not... Who knows.
Personally, unless I can inspect them beforehand, and test them without penalty, I choose to stick with the major brands who keep manufacture in house, or to top quality subcontractors only.
Saturday, February 14, 2015
Ten years ago today, I wrote this:
Monday, February 14, 2005First Post!!!!!
Ok folks, people have been telling me to write my own blog for two years now, so finally, here it is.
Yeah I said I'd get around to it before, but I'm lazy, what can I say.
The initial content is mostly going to be stuff I've written for other peoples blogs, and fora etc...
Suggestions, praise, worship, and deification are all welcome.
Yes, today is my fifth blogiversary.
It's amazing how much has changed in my life in the last five years. I'm married, with children... wow... damn...
I mean, at 16, I thought it'd be a miracle if I lived past 30... and if I'd gone on the way I was going, it would've been.
Now I'm looking hard at "middle age"; having achieved nearly half of everything I've ever really wanted... and another 30 or so years... maybe 40 if I'm lucky... to achieve or acquire the other half before my ability to achieve is significantly diminished.
Not that I don't have troubles, and trials, and difficulties and issues... perhaps more than my share... but I always have had, and I'm sure always will have them. It's the human condition.
Moments like this, I just look around me and I can't help but think how lucky I am. How hard I've worked, how much I've sacrificed, how many people I've helped or hurt, or loved, or fought with along the way... but most of all how lucky I've been.
I simply cannot believe where I am, where I might soon be, and just how lucky I am for that.
Thank you all for reading this stuff that spills out of my brain. It humbles me that so many people want to listen. I don't do this for you, I do it for my own sanity; but believe me, I appreciate you.In those ten years, my words have been read at least 5 million times, by at least hundreds of thousands.
The last four of those years have been... pretty hard honestly. The cancer, the pain, the brain fog, the... everything...
Hell, it's been more than... 18 months I think, since I've been out shooting. But every day I wake up on the right side of the ground, is a good day.
I know I don't write here very much anymore (an explanation of that here). Most of what I'm writing is on facebook, and please feel free to friend or follow me there. I save the blog for the longer pieces, more personal or more details... But I'm still here. Still writing, still reading, still getting pissed off and writing a few thousand words, for whoever is still reading.
Thursday, February 12, 2015
Ayup, really, a high quality full range PA speaker, of the appropriate size, and properly set up; will always be more accurate, and often sound better, than all but the best guitar or bass cabinets; while being lighter, more durable, and MUCH cheaper.
What do you mean by "High Quality and Full Range" ?
By high quality, and full range, I mean a speaker that:
1. Is sturdily constructed, with no rattles, undamped harmonics etc
2. Has proper enclosure volume for its drivers
3. Is properly designed for its drivers
4. Has high sensitivity (minimum of 96db to 101db or so)
5. Has a broad flat frequency response (+/- less than 3db, preferably +/- 1db) in the frequency range of your instrument, and it's harmonic overtones to the 12th multiple of the fundamental.
That frequency range would be 31hz to 524hz (B0 to C5) for a 24 fret 6 string bass, with overtones to 6.3khz; and 82hz to 1.3khz (e2 to e6) for a 24 fret guitar, with overtones to 15.6khz.
The overtones are important, but they damp out very rapidly with each harmonic doubling. The first four multiples above the fundamental are called the "presence", and they can be heard and felt, inside ones head (particularly when amplifying acoustic stringed instruments). Generally because of harmonic attenuation, it's impossible to hear or feel anything above the 8th multiple of any fundamental (and above the fourth it's essentially inaudible) but you want the extra headroom, because even the best speakers attenuate towards the ends of their response curves, and harmonic attenuation mostly damps out the quieter harmonics above the second to fourth multiple already (I'm speaking in terms of multiples of the fundamental, instead of first through 16th harmonic, because I don't want to get into the variability of harmonics with scale, tuning, time and periodicity, resonating chambers, free air space etc...).
Speaking of that, you'll note that the lowest frequency on a five and six string bass is 31hz (it's 41hz on a 4 string). Unfortunately, almost no speakers have decent, clear, uncolored response below 45-50hz, even those in high quality bass cabinets. A good full range PA speaker will generally go down to between 45hz and 55hz, a will a good bass cab (classic Ampeg SVT cabs only go down to 58hz
This is deliberate, because unless you use a giant 15" or 18" subwoofer, (or use special very expensive 10" or 12" drivers) you just can't do 40hz or below and still sound good. Even with the giant subwoofer, the bass can sound muddy and rumbly.
Better PA speakers and bass cabinets still respond at frequencies under 455-55hz, they just roll off more than 3db (better speakers might have something like -3-6db at 5hz under nominal, and -6-10db at 10hz under nominal, with around 1-1.5db/hz attenuation for the next 10hz under nominal). This actually has the effect of making the bass sound "cleaner" and clearer; though at 31hz, it's still more felt than heard.
There are a few bass cabinets that have good response in those sub-bass ranges, like the Markbass standard 4x10 (response down to 35hz), and Ampeg Pro-Neo series (28hz in the 15" and 38hz in the 4x10,), but they're very expensive (they run about $900 to $1500).
Ok... so why is a PA speaker more accurate and "better"?
Frankly, most guitar cabs flat out suck. They're inefficient, heavy, expensive, and don't sound very good.
Generally, only the very best (and often most expensive) guitar caps sound great (or often, even good), and even then only in specific situations, for specific tones, with specific amps (because they have a strongly colored and biased voicing).
Even just a mid quality PA speaker, is generally better at reproducing sound accurately, than a very high quality guitar cab. The frequency response will be flatter and the sound will be clearer, with neutral coloration and voicing.
This is because a guitar cabs are deliberately designed, and their drivers are deliberately biased, to emphasize certain tones and attenuate certain tones (mostly attenuating very high and very low frequencies, with a curved response on the mids and mid-highs). When the speakers significantly alter the sound coming to them from the amp, this is called strong coloration, or strong voicing.
In general, it's very difficult (and expensive) for an 8", 10", or 12" driver to have desirable tonal characteristics across the full range of guitar frequencies and overtones, and most cabinets don't include high frequency horns (and the ones that do, generally don't voicematch them very well, blend them very well, or use good quality crossover networks, so they often sound harsh, thin, and "squeal" or "crackle").
Again, only the very highest quality (and most expensive) guitar cabs do so well (or at all); whereas even lower end PA speakers are specifically designed to use multiple drivers (a 12" or 15" full range will typically be a 3 way speaker, and may be as much as a dual woofer 5 way) to produce pleasing and even frequency response across the entire range of instrumental and vocal frequencies and their audible and "presence" overtones.
A single high quality high performance driver for a guitar cab, might cost as much as $450, and even midrange drivers can run $90 to $150. You can see how in a cheaper 2x12 cabinet retailing for $300, or combo retailing for $600, they've got to be buying lower end drivers, that just aren't that good.
At last with a combo amp, the manufacturer should have chosen drivers that match well with the amplifier. It's nearly impossible for a strongly voiced cabinet to sound good with a lot of different amplifiers. Manufacturers have to either try to make it as neutral as possible, in which case guitarists don't want it ("it sounds dead" or "it sounds cold"... it doesn't, it sounds neutral you just don't know how to use your gear to get the sound you want instead of having it done for you by the "strongly voiced" drivers), or give it a strong voice that sounds good for the amp they think most customers will want to use with it, for the style of music they think most customers will play with it.
This is one reason why you see many artists in certain styles of music or with certain play styles, all seem to have a strong preference for the same amps and cabs. It's not just fashion (though in part it is), it's because the manufacturer specifically voices those amps and cabs, to sound good for that style of music and play style.
Ok, forget about "voice" and "color", what about the rest of "better" ?
Decent PA speakers are also generally much more efficient than guitar cabs of equivalent quality, volume, and tone; because all but the very best guitar cabs have quite low sensitivity (some as low as 82db, and 86-92db are not uncommon for cheaper cabs and speakers, as opposed to 96-101db for the best of both PA speakers and cabs).
Higher sensitivity, means that for a given power level output to the speaker, the volume output will be louder. A 3db difference in sensitivity, means DOUBLE or HALF the power is required to produce the same volume.
An aside on speaker sensitivity, volume, and solid state vs tube amps: Sensitivity ratings are given as db of sound energy output 1 watt, at 1 meter away from the speaker.
We don't hear 3db as a doubling of volume. 3db sounds roughly 10% louder to our ears, but it is a doubling of sound energy, and a doubling of input power.
It takes a 10db change for our ears to hear a doubling in volume, as well as taking 10 times the power (to double volume at the same frequency, impedance, and sensitivity).
However, because both our hearing, and the power requirements for sound energy are logarithmic, a 3db more sensitive speaker, will sound about twice as loud, if it's given 5 times the power as the less sensitive speaker, instead of 10 times the power. The difference gets even starker at 6db, or 9db and so on.
The most efficient speaker cabinet I've ever heard of was 103db. The least, 82db. Cheap combo amps will often have 86db or 89db speakers, while more expensive combos and cabs will generally 96db or 99db sensitivity. Let's see how that works out:
An 82db speaker will output 82db at 1 watt, 85db at 2 watts, 88db at 4 watts, 91db at 8 watts, 92db at 10 watts, 95db at 10 watts, 98db at 40 watts, 101db at 80 watts, and about 104db at 100 watts.
An 86db speaker will output 86db at 1 watt, 89db at 2 watts, 92db at 4 watts, 95db at 8 watts, 96db at 10 watts, 99db at 20 watts, 102db at 40 watts, 105db at 80 watts, and about 106db at 100 watts.
A 96db speaker will output 96db at 1 watt, 99db at 2 watts, 102db at 4 watts, 105db at 8 watts, 106db at 10 watts, 109db at 20 watts, 112db at 40 watts, 115db at 80 watts, and about 116db at 100 watts.
A 99db speaker will output 99db at 1 watt, 102db at 2 watts, 105db at 4 watts, 108db at 8 watts, 109db at 10 watts, 112db at 20 watts, 115db at 40 watts, 118db at 80 watts, and about 119db at 100 watts.
A 101db speaker will output 101db at 1 watt, 103db at 2 watts, 106db at 4 watts, 109db at 8 watts, 111db at 10 watts, 114db at 20 watts, 117db at 40 watts, 120db at 80 watts, and about 121db at 100 watts.
A 103db speaker will output 103db at 1 watt, 106db at 2 watts, 109db at 4 watts, 112db at 8 watts, 113db at 10 watts, 116db at 20 watts, 119db at 40 watts, 122db at 80 watts, and about 123db at 100 watts.
You'll note the 103db speaker is essentially as loud with one watt, as the 82db speaker is with 100 watts. It's also louder with 40 watts, than the 99db speaker is with 100; or louder at 20 watts, than the 96db speaker is at 100.
This efficiency factor by the way, combined with much higher gain in the preamp stages (which makes things sound louder at lower overall volume levels); is why cheap "100 watt" solid state amps, sound much quieter than very expensive 15 watt tube amps. The cheap solid state amp might have even cheaper 86db drivers in it. The tube amps have expensive 99db or even 101db sensitivity drivers.
That tube amp can get about 50% louder with 99db speakers at 15 watts, than the cheap solid state can with 86db speakers at 100 watts. With 101db speakers, it can get about 70% louder, and with 103db speakers it can get almost double the volume.
Tube amps used expensive high efficiency speakers, because they had to, because otherwise they didn't have enough power to get loud, or they would badly overheat. Solid state amps are much easier and cheaper to crank up the power on, and so they could afford to use cheaper, less efficient drivers.
Higher sensitivity also means allows a given sound at a given level, to be reproduced using less power, more accurately, with less tonal coloration or distortion (this is called headroom).
PA speakers are also generally much lighter, and often much better built and tougher than guitar cabs, even though they are much cheaper.
For some reason, many guitar cabs are surprisingly fragile. In part because they are meant to be prettier (they're often covered in decorative and relatively expensive this textured vinyl for example, vs throwaway dark grey or black industrial carpetlike material). In part it's because decent guitar drivers are VERY heavy, and can do damage to themselves and the cabs structure, if bumped about too much.
Whereas PA speakers are built to be knocked around. They're lighter, because the drivers they use weigh much less, and aren't as deep, so they can fit in smaller enclosures. These factors allow PA speakers to weigh as little as half the weight of an equivalent guitar cab, while still being built tougher.
These by the way, are several of the reason why I'm using a PA speaker for testing amps and guitars, and I'm not using my Ampeg 2x10 bass cab (I don't have a guitar cab right now). The cab is voiced specifically for bass, and in particular for the Ampeg PF500 and PF800 amplifiers (the other reason is I don't want to blow my good cab, if an amp malfunctions).
Guitars actually sound great played through bass amps and cabs by the way, particularly if you have a full range cab with a high frequency horn and good crossover (my Ampeg 2x10 PF-210he has +/-2b or less from 53hz to 17khz, at 98db, covering the full range of guitar harmonics with plenty of headroom).
Guitarists have been using bass amps for more power and a deeper "growl" tone, since Leo Fender invented the modern electric solidbody bass, and the first dedicated bass amp (in 1951 and 1952 respectively); particularly after they introduced the 50 watt 4x10 model in 1956 (setting the pattern for both bass and guitar speaker cabinets ever since).
In fact, the first "stacks" were Fender Bassman amp heads, with 4x10 bass cabinets; from way back in '60, when the loudest guitar amps you could get were Vox AC30s (30 watt 2x12. Still used by many artists today, including Brian May and the Edge. They mic them up on stage for the PA). Guitarists loved them, and bought every one that Fender could make. Even today, they are among the most prized vintage amps, easily costing $5,000 to $10,000.
In fact, guitarists loved them so much, and they were so rare and expensive, that Jim Marshall modified one to make his famous Marshall JTM45 (the first Marshall amp), deciding to use 4x12 cabinets with celestion speakers... And the Marshall legend was born.That said, the bass amps and cabs are distinctly biased for bass, and definitely do color the tone.
When I'm testing, repairing, or reconditioning an amp or guitar, I want to hear as close to an accurate, uncolored, unshaped, neutral voiced tone as possible. A decent PA speaker is the best way to do that, without spending a massive amount of money.
I would love to have a top quality 2x10, 2x12, 4x10, or 4x12 guitar cab. Unfortunately, they're VERY expensive ($600 to $2000), as well as heavy and huge. Guitar cabs smaller than 2x10, generally sound like crap, and are still VERY expensive ($200 to $600 for good ones. The cheapest are 1x8", still cost $100 to $400, and they mostly sound like crap until you're past the midpoint of that price range).
Even just a half decent 10" or 12", two or three way, PA speaker ($100 to $300), set up properly, will sound as good or better, than all but the very best guitar cabinets.
Don't think so? I'll prove it.
Guess what... Any live show you've been to bigger than a coffee house or pub (and probably a lot of those gigs too), most of the guitar sound you heard wasn't coming from a Marshall stack. It was probably coming from that Marshalls preamp or DI output (or even directly off the pedalboard into a DI box), on a direct patch to the mixer, and out to the PA system.
The amp may or may not have also had the cabinets miked up and mixed in, but stage miking is difficult and inconsistent, and you need a wide variety of mics and rigs for different situations. It's hard enough with a single smaller amp and cab, never mind a big stack, or multiples. Some artists always mic their cabs, some never do, and some vary depending on the acoustics of the venue.
Either way though, the PA system has to sound pleasing while reproducing those guitar sounds. Which means they CAN reproduce those same sounds, and if they can reproduce those sounds when sent them from the PA amp, they can be made to make them in the first place.
The dirty little secret of rock and roll?
It's really hard to get good natural sound, filling even a medium sized room, out of just a big amp and cab on stage. Most of the time, most performers (and importantly, most sound engineers), in most venues, don't even try.
On stage, amp stacks aren't for sound... They're for the show... the spectacle.
In a bigger venue, most of the time the artists don't even use ONE of the stacks for their OWN audio, using floor monitors or in ear monitors (like very high end earbuds, hooked into their wireless system, and letting them hear their tone evenly no matter where they are on the stage, as well as hearing the other band members, and crew communications).
At most, they'll have one stack miked up.
To get proper sound out of a full stack, you need to use EIGHT mikes (which are damn near impossible to set up, and even harder to mix and EQ properly), and a big acoustic shield to protect the mikes from excess reverb, echo, delay, and phase effects, and from spill sound from the house and the rest of the band; which screws up the visual look they're going for.
Here's another "secret" for you... A lot of the time, if you see an artist with big stacks out there on stage, and they want that "real stack sound"; the stacks you see on stage will actually all be unpowered dummies. Their REAL amp and cab will actually be back stage, behind noise insulation, properly miked up, mixed with the DI and turned way down, using only a few watts of power so as to not overload the mics.
This is also how Brian May, The Edge, and other guitarists that like to use lower powered classic amps, particularly combo amps like the Vox AC30; get their preferred tone, while filling a huge concert venue with sound.
If the artist wants a heavy feedback sound, they'll use a feedback or screamer effect. Either that, or they'll have a single amp with the gain turned all the way up, and a 2x12 floor monitor, or a single 4x12 cab on a riser to bring it to guitar height, that they'll walk up to for natural feedback. Even then, it will be miked, and mixed in the board, to go out to the in ears and PA.
Often, their sound guy will be watching for cues, and when they want the feedback, they'll turn that one amps mix up on the PA, and then turn it down afterwards so they don't get unwanted feedback, noise, and distortion.
Now, that doesn't mean the guitar cab doesn't sound good, and may in fact sound much better than a direct clean and "dry" signal from a preamp or DI box (if it's a good amp and cab, it almost certainly will). The guitar cab will be specifically tuned to accentuate the pleasing sounds and dampen the displeasing sounds, that a guitar and amp can make.
That however, is why most guitar specific DI boxes, modelers and the like, have something called "cab emulation", and many have "amp emulation" of specific amp types (and of course the whole point of modelers is that they do this).
These are circuits (or digital models) that when played through a clean and neutral speaker (or directly into a mixer or recording interface), emulate the way a well known amp and/or cabinet (like a marshall JCM800 through a 4x12, vox AC30, or Fender 2x12 combo... those are the most common emulations by far), will shape the tone of the guitar.
This is also why you have equalizers in any preamp, amp (and most amps with a DI can switch between equalized "wet" sound, and unequalized "dry" sound), modeler, mixer, and PA rig.
But using a PA speaker as a cab, you don't have to worry about that. We're not talking about playing wet or dry through a PA. What we're talking about is playing through your full sound chain, right up to the final drive stage.
In fact... give me $300 to get a half decent 2x12" 3 way PA speaker, and I guarantee I'll blow your $600 2x12" Fender cab, clean off the stage.
I know where I can get a 30hz 101db 2x15 4 way pa speaker for $300 (with eminence drivers even). That's stackable with a 101db 2x12 4 way in the same form factor also for $300. That's $600, in two cabs that collectively weigh in, and size up, just a bit bigger than Marshall 4x12. But sonically they would just blow the $1200 Marshall away. In fact, I'm certain they'd absolutely kill a full dual 4x12 stack costing $2500. Same amp, just two PA speakers instead of two cabs.
Between your pre-amp and amp (all guitar amps have a pre-amp. It's what makes them guitar amps rather than just power amps), amp and cab modeling or emulation, and proper equalization; you can get a good PA speaker to sound as good or better than an actual guitar cab of the same size, price, and quality (though not necessarily exactly the same as a specific amp and cab); and generally better than all but the very best cabs.
My house was always full of music, as was my grandparents house (where I lived from 2 to 5, and then summers until I was 16).
My mother and grandfather both prefered to work with music on when they could, and my aunts and uncles were all music nuts.
Papa loved music from classical, to 30s through 60s swing and jazz and pop standards, to Elvis, to show tunes (he and my grandmother both loved the classic musicals), to classic country, and even outlaw country (I first heard Waylon Jennings in my grandfathers home office). Of course, he also liked "beautiful music"... but nobody's perfect.
My mother loved classic rock, jazz vocals, R&B and soul. I heard Nina Simone, and Santana, and 70's Michael Jackson from my mother. She would play tapes of her favorites over and over, learning the vocals.
My dad was a guitar player and singer too, still is... Classic rock and blues. He even played at their wedding. Though I didn't see him from the age of 5 'til I was 20... the influence was still there (and he and I sing a lot a like).
Growing up, my mothers sisters and brothers were more like my older sisters and brothers. From them I learned to love hard rock, and punk, and folk, and "alternative" before it was labeled alternative. Husker Du, the Afghan Whigs, the Hoodoo Gurus, Stiff Little Fingers, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Cockburn, the Lemonheads, the Pixies, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones...
We had family friends who were in the music business, concert promoters, managers, music producers. My grandfather's law firm had a lot of musicians and bands as clients.
I started vocal instruction at age 5. Was in a childrens performing chorus at age 8, and in choral competitions from age 13 through high school. I started music theory and appreciation classes at 12, learning piano and drums. I got my first guitar at 13, and my first bass a couple years later.
I have had a life completely full of music. I can't really imagine being otherwise. I've been a very lucky man.
Friday, February 06, 2015
He had been out of prison a couple years, and was now off of parole and a free man... And he wanted to know... Would I please come and visit him, because he loved me, and missed me, and wanted to be a part of my life again.
So that Christmas, I packed up and flew back to Boston... And suddenly, I had a father again.
That was... Well... I can't exactly put it into words... I can just tell you that family is extremely important to me.
After reconnecting, one of the first things my father and I bonded over.. and very deeply so... was our love of music. In particular our mutual love of the blues, soul, classic and hard rock, and great guitar work. After all, we both played guitar and sang (he even played and sang at my parents wedding).
At that point though, I didn't have any guitars (my guitars had all burned in my mothers house, when my brother burned the top two floors down, on my 19th birthday).
He did though...
One particular guitar, and amp, that he had wanted since they'd been introduced.
It was a 1993 Fender Stratocaster Ultra. It had a maple neck, ebony fingerboard, lace sensors, and a custom fit gold tweed hard case, which matched the tweed of the Blues Deluxe amp wanted to go with it.
So he searched, and called in favors, and pestered friends and shopkeepers, and drove a couple hundred miles... and finally he found them, and bought them as a present to himself.
The one he found was in a special color, a deep metallic pearl blue (they had to stop using it because of changes in environmental regulation. They only ever made 400 guitars in that color), that looked great with the Ultra neck, pickguard, and hardware.
Unfortunately this isn't the guitar, I don't have any pics, but it's similar:
He loved that guitar, and he played the hell out of it...His fingers bled on that guitar... It was the guitar he wanted to keep for the rest of his life; his single most prized possession.
Until his guitar playing son came back to him... and didn't have a guitar to play.
So... to celebrate our first Christmas together since I was a little kid, he gave me a special Christmas gift: His guitar.
His fingers had bled on that guitar... the guitar he wanted more than any other... and he wanted me to have it.
It was the best Christmas present I'd ever had... Both the guitar, and the meaning of it.. Having a father again... getting my family back...
Again... I can't put into words...
I truly loved that guitar. It was one of the few possessions I actually gave a damn about. My fingers bled on that guitar.
Unfortunately, I left it in storage in the U.S. (along with most of what I owned) when I moved to Ireland (originally I was going to send for them later, but my first marriage split, and I decided to leave the stuff in storage a while... which ended up being 3 years). I say unfortunately, because while I was in Ireland, even though I prepaid a year at a time; the storage company was purchased, and the new owners mistakenly auctioned all of my possessions, without notifying me.
It was the second time I'd lost all my guitars. I was so devastated, that it was actually years before I picked up a guitar again. Not until my wife bought me one in fact, for our first Christmas together as a family.
15 years later... 15 years with my father, after 15 years without him; I was looking to get my father a rather special Christmas present, to celebrate that.
I knew what it had to be of course: A guitar... But not just any guitar, it had to be exactly the right guitar.
I wasn't just trying to be cute and clever... It was important.
So, I spent that entire year searching for exactly the right guitar. Late in the year, I found it.
Oh boy did I find it...
What I found, was an extremely rare, very limited production, 100% perfect mint unplayed condition, vintage, masterbuilt select (meaning hand built, from hand selected special woods), Strat Ultra.
Now... from here until the last bit, I'm gonna get all guitar crazy for a bit, and obsess over the tiny details of wood and metal and electricity and the like, that go into making a guitar. If that's not your thing, feel free to skip ahead to "it was a beautiful thing".
The Ultra was a limited production model to begin with, as the absolute top of Fenders Stratocaster line from 1988 to 1997. On top of that, this was a custom shop masterbuilt select guitar; hand built by one of their master luthiers (who signs the heel of neck, the underside of the pickguard, and in the trem cavity; so you know it's all the original parts as they built them).
Basically, with a masterbuilt select guitar, the luthiers see an interesting piece of wood, or they have a special idea for what might make an interesting guitar. Then they hand pick the special wood and parts (or they modify or custom fabricate parts if they need to), and hand build and finish, one or more guitars from it (usually from one to four, sometimes as much as ten, but that's very rare).
The guitar has a one piece AAA flamed and quilted maple body (not just a top and back plate, the whole body), in a special hand tinted and finished custom sunburst on both top and back. It's kinda like the antique sunburst, but with a bit of dark reddish brown blending into the brown and amber, and the amber has a more neutral darker maple tone, rather than a more yellow tone. Also, it goes dark but not black or opaque on the sides. All of which is specifically to show off the figured body better (you can see the figure on the sides straight through the wood to the back).
The chatoyance of this wood, in this finish, with this figure, is just gorgeous. The guitar looks like it's on fire, and the flames are coming out at you out of the depths of the wood.
The neck is a special extra thin, compound contoured profile, in AAA flame figured maple, with AAA figured headstock plate matching the body, an inlaid abalone Fender logo, a compound radius ebony fretboard with superjumbo frets, abalone inlays and sidemarkers, roller bearing string nut, and locking tuners. The neck also has a special truss rod system (to prevent both twist and bow, and to bias the relief from bass to treble without warping the neck), and the Fender neck angle adjustment system.
The guitar has a special shielded pickguard with four special lace sensors (two of them wired together as a humbucker in the bridge position, and two different tonal spec in the neck and center), special shielded wiring and control options including the Fender super switch with S1 system (meaning you can select any combination of pickups, including any single, two, three, or all four at once,; or wiring the neck and middle together as humbuckers to get double humbucker output), built in 3 band EQ (cut and boost for bass, mid, and treble are hidden in the original tone controls), phasing, coil tapping, and midboost, It also has a special stabilized two point tremolo, with graphite impregnated saddles. It even has special strap pins (for a straplock system). Finally, there's additional matching abalone inlay in the pickguard and control knobs (nothing gaudy, just picking out the text and a couple little accents).
Oh and it has it's own custom fit special hard case, lined in blue velvet, covered in black tolex; with real leather ends, straps, and handles; and chrome hardware and fittings.
Basically, this was the finest Stratocaster Fender could make in their custom shop that year, with every possible option.
As near as I can tell, it is the only guitar Fender ever built in that exact configuration, one of only 4 in that select series, and one of only 10 guitars hand built by that master luthier that year.
A standard Strat Ultra, runs $1100 to $3500, depending on the year, finish, the options, whether the case was with it etc...
This guitar, originally would have cost about $9,500 (about $15,000 today).
Today, it's probably, conservatively, worth about $8500; priced for a quick sale to a knowledgable buyer.
The guitar would be worth a LOT more, except that the lace sensor pickups have an undeserved, and undesirable, reputation.
An aside... a rant about pickups...
For some strange reason, many people don't like how clean and "quiet" lace sensors are...
...or at least they THINK they don't, based on what they've read. Most folks have no idea what lace sensors sound like. Even when they try a guitar with them, they don't know how to get the sound they want out of them. The "collective wisdom" says they're "cold", so people think they're cold.
Lace sensors are very high output, and get very loud, with ultraclear and even response across the entire dynamic range and sweep of bass, mid, and treble frequencies, and almost no noise, distortion, or hum (unlike conventional pickups, which do have noise, distortion, hum -- even humbuckers -- and very uneven frequency response).
Critically, lace sensors don't get dirty, hum, or distort (or spike impedance, or have weird inductance or microphonic issues, or many of the other normal problems of conventional pickups), through a clean amp, even at very high volume.
You also get better sustain, better overall tonal clarity and definition (clearer chording and soloing, less "mud"), higher overall dynamic range, and higher clean output (for a given volume and tone setting, and given force on the strings) out of a lace sensor, than a conventional pickup.
This is a GOOD thing, because now YOU have total control over your tone. You decide how you want to sound, the limitations of your pickups or amplifier don't decide for you.
But... Some people think they sound "cold" or "flat", and want a "dirtier" or "crunchier" tone by default.
Lace sensors don't actually sound cold, or dead, or flat, at all by the way. How they sound, is neutral, by default. In fact, they can sound however you want them to, depending on which one you choose (there are several different versions with different base tonal qualities), which ones you switch in, how you set your tone EQ, and how you set your amp (and your effects if any).
You can get warmth, you can get heat, you can get jangle, you can get burble, you can get scream, you can get growl... But you'll never get dirty, or noisy,or distorted in way you don't want to, at times you don't want.
Of course, being able to get any tone you want from them, means that you actually have to know how to get the tone you want from them. To be aware of how your tone is created and shaped and changed, as part of your playing. Most don't want to bother.
If the guitar had been originally built with the custom shop hand wound pickups instead of the custom shop special lace sensors, it would be worth north of $12,500... between $15,000 and $20,000 to the right buyer, looking for the work of that particular master luthier (who has now retired).
I paid $1150, plus shipping.
The guy had NO CLUE what he had. He knew it was an Ultra, but he had no idea about the rest. He was the guitar guy for a pawnbroker who had bought out the inventory of a high end music store when the owner died.
I recognized what it was from the pictures and the posted details, and bid, fervently hoping that no-one else would know what they were bidding on. They didn't. There were other bidders, but no-one else bid over the reserve. I sweated it out until the auction was up, and no-one outbid me.
Now... normally, I would tell the seller if they had a much more valuable item than they knew they had, just as a matter of ethics... But this wasn't another player, this was a professional guitar seller, clearing out an estate sale. My conscience was clear.
After I got the guitar, it was clear it had never been played, or at least not enough to leave the slightest mark. It was perfect, and I was pretty sure it was as special as I was hoping.
I checked the signatures under the tremolo plate and pickguard (don't take a neck off unless you have to; too much potential for damage), and confirmed the provenance with Fender (as well as I could anyway. Fender doesn't provide a complete detailed history or build sheet for non-original purchasers. I was able to get more by internet research and the websites of some Fender fanatics).
It was what I thought it was from the description... and more. The level of detail and workmanship on this guitar is just staggering, and only half was in the auction description).
Unfortunately this isn't the guitar, I don't have any pics, but it's similar:
It was a beautiful thing...
More importantly, it PLAYED. I played it through my Fender 2x12, and it was a beautiful thing. Weight, balance, action, tone, feel... It's an amazing instrument.
I played it, and I loved it, and my fingers bled on that guitar.
Most importantly, I was able to give my dad the best Christmas present I could ever have given him.
I managed to make my father cry with happiness.
I am in no way joking, when I say I consider that a major achievement in my life, and one of the best things I have ever done.
It's not just the guitar... It's what it meant.
My dad played that guitar... that special guitar that we both spent so much time wanting, and searching for... He played it, and he loved it, and his fingers bled on it.
So here we are today...
A little while ago, I was sitting on my bed, playing my six string bass guitar, when my almost two year old son came into the room because he heard me playing.
I should mention at this point, that my father is Chris the Third, I'm Chris the fourth, and the boy is Chris the fifth.The boy smiled and ran straight over and climbed up to me, then climbed up and over my arm and wormed his way in between me and the instrument... Then reached down and started trying to play it with daddy.
And I thought about all of this... this... and I cried with happiness.
My father and I agree: The guitar stays in the family. My father played it... His blood is in it. I played it... My blood is in it. I hope to God that some day my son will play it, and his blood will be in it, and his son...
S'cuse me... It's a bit dusty in here at the moment. I think I have something in my eye.. s'a little blurry.
I think I'll go play some guitar with my son.
Friday, January 30, 2015
Large computer monitors on the other hand, are still really expensive... Though the definition of "large" has changed over the past ten years from 17" to 19" to 21" to 24", to 27", and for the last couple years has topped out in the range of 30"-32". That's about the most people can comfortably fit on their desktop, and still be able to see the screen edge to edge without turning their heads.
Most people who want more screen area, just get two 24" monitors, because they don't need to look at a single big high resolution thing very much. Those who do, buy the 27" to 32" monitors bite the bullet, and pay the extra money.
So, since 32" tv's are so cheap, and so great, why not just buy one of those, or even a 37" or 40" etc... for a big monitor?
Yeah... why not use a flat screen TV as a monitor?
At first glance, it makes sense, and for some people in some applications, it absolutely does. But, there are a number of factors you need to take into account.
First, the sharpness, contrast ratio, luminance, and response time, are generally considerably better on decent computer monitors than on most televisions.
Those qualities are expensive, and get more so as screen size goes up. They're expensive on TV's as well, but to show a good HDTV image, you don't need as good a screen (technically a display panel).
Also, the image processing, color gamut, panel design and the like, are generally different between monitors and televisions.
Computer monitors are designed to display text and graphics very precisely but not necessarily naturally. PC monitors panels and image processing are designed to make text look very clear, readable, and high contrast, without being oversharp, especially black text on white backgrounds. Monitors (at least higher quality ones) are also generally designed to display a much broader range of colors, more accurately (meaning with less bias or distortion, at consistent brightness and contrast, across the whole panel. Better quality monitors can also be color, contrast, and brightness corrected and calibrated, and can adjust the display in ways to correct common computer display issues. Of course, how well they actually manage to do those is another question).
Televisions generally have panels and image processing designed to make live video and film images, especially fast moving images, more natural looking. They are also designed to make bright objects against a dark background look better, without popping or ghosting, and with a "natural" appearing color, softness, and motion blur. They also have different screen adjustments to address issues typical to HD video signals rather than computer display signals (overscan, position correction, aspect ratio etc...).
This by the way is one reason why professional video production monitors are much more expensive than normal televisions. They are designed with all of the capabilities of the best quality PC monitors, AND the best televisions, plus additional inputs, image controls, and correction and calibration capabilities (as well as some other things like refresh and color/refresh/channel sync lock).
Isn't 1080p good enough?
The issue isn't resolution... 1080p is good enough... at the right screen size and viewing distance.
The issue is our vision, contrast, pixel size, and viewing distance.
PC monitors are designed be looked at closely, from close distances. TV's are designed to be watched from farther away, looking at the whole screen at once.
A 1920x1080 screen at 50" vs a 1920x1080 screen at 24" have VASTLY different PPI (pixel per inch). The big screen will be 44ppi and the smaller screen will be 92ppi.
My phone has a 5.1" 1920x1080 screen at 432ppi.
That's a .6mm, a .28mm and a 0.06mm pixel size respectively.
Whether a particular pixel count is acceptable or not, depends on how far away your eyes are from the screen.
The average human can see an individual .6mm pixel in a contrasting field (one white pixel on black) from appx 78", a .28mm pixel from 37" and a 0.06mm pixel from about 8".
You can get these numbers for yourself for any screen size here: https://www.sven.de/dpi/ and here: http://isthisretina.com/
So what's the difference and what's the damage?
In the real world, you don't need super high quality, ultra contrast, ultra high pixel densityetc... for general computing. A 24" 1080p screen looks just fine for most things, including video, most gaming, and small text.
Cheaper 1080p screens in the the 32" size range are now available for $250 or so. They look fine for displaying HDTV. Unfortunately look like crap when used as computer monitors from typical chair to screen distances. The text can be difficult to read, window edges look weird, games look weird, colors don't look right, black and white look like grey and brighter grey (usually with some blue, green, or yellow mixed in).
That said, they're not entirely unusable, and for video, large text, status displays etc... they're fine for that. They're also fine at 6 feet away. A slightly more expensive TV in the same size range may also have more controls and options so you can calibrate and compensate and make it look better.
30" to 32" computer monitors start at twice that (for 1080p screens), and go up into the $5,000 range (for 4k 4096x2160). They also look great at typical chair to screen distances for anything but small text (at 1080p).
For small text, even 27" is iffy at 1080p. For a 27-32" you really want something like 2048x1152, 2048x1536 or 2560x1440, or go to a QHD/4k.
Professional video production monitors in the 30-32" range on the other hand START at around $5,000 for 1080p, and go into the $30,000 range for 4k. They look amazing at any distance (once you get used to a professional video screen, other screen look like crap in comparison).
If there weren't good reason for it, no-one would spend that extra money.
Wednesday, January 07, 2015
More importantly, you absolutely must understand what they MEAN.
So then why are so many people attempting to make it so hard for others to understand them?
In order to communicate with someone, you must have shared meaning with them.
You must have shared definitions, shared context, shared points of reference; or you must be able to create these things, in your interactions with them.
You must be able to relate things in your own life and experience, to similar things in theirs, and be able to explain the differences (you must be able to share idiom and to analogize).
Further, you have to know where you have shared meaning, and where you don't. Otherwise you might say one thing, and they'll understand (or misunderstand), something else entirely.
It's a case of not being able to ask the right questions, because you don't know, what you don't know.
I am a member of several different subcultures, where individuality, the "unusual", the extreme, the outliers... are "common", even celebrated.
However, these are also subcultures which tend to infinitesimalize relatively small differences. To create terminology for them. To inhabit them, wrap identities around them, and unfortunately too often factionalize around them (look up "the narcissism of small differences")
For all these reasons, and many more, it is especially important that we be able to communicate clearly. That when we say things of significance, we are operating with a set of shared definitions and assumptions. That we have shared meaning, around our actions and interactions.
The potential for hurt or harm is so great, the need for clarity is all the greater.
The difficulty is, often, our cultural assumptions are transparent to us; and utterly alien to others outside of our culture (or subculture).
In most subcultures, "Good morning" is a friendly greeting, and "Hey, fuck you" is a horrible insult.
MOST subcultures, but not all...
"Hey, fuck you", IS a warm friendly greeting, in some subcultures...
The military, commercial kitchens, athletic fields, construction sites... Really anyplace where people (mostly guys) "busting each others balls" is part of the culture of comradeship and respect.
It's when the guys DON'T insult you, screw with you, bust your balls etc... that they are expressing their dislike or lack of respect for you. It means they don't care enough to bother, don't respect you enough, or don't think you can take it.
You wouldn't BELIEVE some of the insults my friends and I have for each other... never mind the dynamic between older and younger brothers...
But... knowing that, and being able to deal with that, depends on shared cultural understanding, and therefore having shared meaning and context.
If you're a polite upper middle class American woman, and you're suddenly dropped into a world, where people express respect and affection for each other by calling each other "bitch", "whore", "faggot" (certain gay subcultures for example)... You're probably going to be appalled, you will likely be offended, and you're certainly going to have a hard time understanding what is being communicated, and communicating in return.
Until you develop shared meaning and context.
This is something that an unfortunate number of folks in "alternative lifestyle communities" seem to miss... (and others as well, I'm just using this as a convenient and obvious example).
They seem to carry around the assumption that somehow, everyone is supposed to understand their exact individual and specific meaning for something, which may mean something entirely different to someone else... and they get offended when you don't.
There are these terms, that they make up entirely, or use differently from everyone else; and yet they seem to believe they have the right to be offended when others don't understand or "respect", their personal meaning or usage... and to force other people to use it while attempting to communicate with them (or worse, to refuse to attempt to communicate with anyone, unless the other party already understands their preferred usage).
Then of course there are those who, in reaction to the type of person I describe above, and in the attempt to not give offense; account for EVERY POSSIBLE OPTION, COMBINATION, OR VARIANT, IN EVERYTHING THEY SAY...
Can you tell that irritates me...
It's a terrific irritation, and waste of time, and just plain destructive to real communication and understanding.
This is one of the problems I have with people who keep trying to find infinitely small divisions of categorization for their "identity", or their gender, or their sexuality, or their ideology or any other damn thing; particularly those who get offended if you don't use, or don't understand, their preferred term for their self identification.
Fine, you may want to call yourself "queer oriented transgenderflexiblequestioning blondie"...
...but unless someone has direct personal knowledge of the multiple subcultures I drew those descriptions from, and the tiny shades of difference between multiple terms, no-one is going to have the slightest clue what you are on about. You're just going to irritate them, and make communication with them more difficult.
And sorry, no, everyone does not have an obligation to "respect your choices and preferences".
Neither your mere existence, nor your particular preferences, create any obligation for me to do ANYTHING WHATSOEVER, except not trespass on your fundamental rights. Everything else is optional, and a matter of cultural practice and social convention.
If you are explicitly and deliberately using language, terminology, and definitions, outside of cultural practice and social convention... How exactly is anyone supposed to know what to do, how to treat you, what to call you etc... ?
One shouldn't need to be an Oxford don of linguistics and semiotics, to understand what it is you wish to be called, what your interests and hobbies and preferences are, what you don't like etc...
How about this...
Those of you who are so concerned about others getting your "label" wrong?
Is your own sense of self worth, and identity, so weak, that it cannot tolerate others not uniquely and specifically acknowledging and reinforcing it?
How about you like yourself, respect yourself, and respect others enough; to not give a damn about labels and terminology, except as a way of facilitating meaningful communication and understanding?
How about you try not getting offended, and instead try to help other people understand you better... and try to understand them better?
Labels CAN be important, to facilitate communication, to speed things up, and to reduce the potential for misunderstanding... but you know what's more important? Shared meaning, shared context, and shared understanding.
In that same vein, definitions ARE important. Critical in fact.
The potential for harm inherent in misunderstandings in this world... It's just too great, to make the risks even higher through miscommunication and misunderstanding.
If you don't know the definition of an important point, clearly and completely, it's absolutely critical you ask.
If the meaning of an important point is ambiguous, or there are multiple equally valid meanings... particularly if they are contradictory; it is critical to reach shared understanding and clarity.
When the meaning of a word, phrase, term etc... is well understood in a particular subculture; it's incumbent on you to understand and use that definition, when dealing with members of that subculture, in their "own house". When dealing with those outside your particular subculture, you cannot expect them to automatically know and use your own specific definitions and meanings, which are different from their own.
Or is that just too hard?
Saturday, January 03, 2015
Not shading, the truth, exaggerating, or interpreting things differently… they are flat out lying.
… And what’s more, the ones who made up the lie in the first place, know they're lying (the rest mostly just parrot what they’ve been told).
What exactly would “keeping up with inflation” mean?
The minimum wage has been $7.25 an hour since 2009.
In 1938, when the federal minimum wage was established, it was $0.25 an hour. In constant dollars (adjusted for inflation) that’s $4.19 as of 2014.
So, not only has the minimum wage kept up with inflation, it’s nearly doubled it.
Ok.. well what about more recently?
Minimum wage 15 years ago in 2000: $5.15, or $7.06 in constant dollars
Minimum wage 20 years ago in 1995: $4.25, or $6.59 in constant dollars.
Minimum wage 25 years ago in 1990: $3.80, or $6.87 in constant dollars.
Minimum wage 30 years ago in 1985: $3.30, or $7.25 in constant dollars.
Funny… that’s exactly what it is today… How shocking.
So, for 30 years, the minimum wage has not only kept up with inflation, for most of that time it’s been ahead of it.
So, how are they lying?
The way “progressives” claim minimum wage hasn’t been “keeping up with inflation”, is by comparing today, with the highest level it has ever been; almost 50 years ago, in 1968, when the minimum wage went to $1.60 an hour ($10.86 in constant dollars).
This was a statistical anomaly.
There’s a long and loathsome tradition of lying with statistical anomalies.
At $1.60 an hour, the minimum wage in 1968 was a huge 20% spike from what it had been just 3 years before in ’65, more than 40% above what it had been in 1960, and nearly double what it had been 12 years before in 1956 when politicians started throwing minimum wage increases faster and bigger (again, all in constant dollar terms. The minimum wage at the beginning of 1956 was about $6.30 in constant dollars)
In constant dollar terms, the minimum wage today, is about the same as it was in 1962 (and as I showed above, 1985).
It just so happens that from 1948 to 1968 we had the single largest wealth expansion over 20 years, seen in the history of the nation (about 5-8% annual growth)… Which then crashed hard starting at the end of ’68.
From 1968 to 1984, the U.S. had 16 years of the worst inflation we ever saw, and the purchasing power of ALL wages fell significantly, as wages failed to come even close to keeping up with inflation (we saw 13.5% inflation in 1980 alone, which is about what we see every 4 years today).
It took until 1988 for real wages to climb back to their 1968 constant dollar level, because we were in a 20 year long inflationary recession, complicated by two oil shocks and a stock market crash (actually a couple, but ’87 was the biggest one since ’29).
However, the minimum wage was boosted significantly in that time period, far more than other wages rose, and stayed above the 1962 water mark until the end of that high inflationary period in 1984, declining slightly until 1992, then spiking and declining again until 1997 etc… etc…
By the by… household income in 1968? appx. $7,700, which is about the same as today in constant dollar terms… About $51,0000 (about 8% more than it was in 1967, at $47k). Which is almost exactly what it was in 1988 as well. Household income peaked in 1999 and 2007 at around $55,000, and troughed in 1975 at around $45,000
Of course, income was on a massive upswing from 1948 to 1968 (and in fact had been on a massive upswing overall since 1896 with the exception of 1929 through 1936). In 1941 household income was about $1500 ($24,000 constant), in 1948 $3,800 ($37,000 constant).
Like I said, it was the single greatest expansion in real income and wealth over a 20 year period, in American history.
1968 was a ridiculous historical anomaly… Not a baseline expectation.
So, From 1964 to 1984, the minimum wage was jacked artificially high (proportionally far above median wage levels), and “progressives” chose to cherry pick the absolute peak in 1968 from that part of the dataset, in order to sell the lie.
A living wage?
As to the minimum wage not being a living wage… No, of course its not. It never was, its not supposed to be, and it never should be.
The minimum wage is intended to be for part time, seasonal workers, entry level workers, and working students.
Only about 4% of all workers earn the minimum wage, and less than 2% of full time workers earn the minimum wage.
Minimum wage is what you pay people whose labor isn’t worth more than that. Otherwise everyone would make minimum wage. But since 98% of full time workers can get more than minimum wage, they do so.
What should the minimum wage be?
Wait, won’t everyone become poor suddenly?
No, of course not. Literally 98% of full time workers already get more than minimum wage. If we abolished the minimum wage, most of them wouldn’t suddenly be paid nothing.
Wages should be whatever someone is willing to work for. If you’re willing to work for $1, and someone else isn’t, you get the job. On the other hand, if an employer is offering $10 and no-one is willing to take the job for that, they need to offer $11, or $12, or whatever minimum wage someone is willing to take.
If you don’t want to work for $7.25 an hour, don’t take the job. If nobody offers you more than that, too bad, but that’s all your labor is worth.
If you are willing to work for someone for $7.00, and they’re willing to pay you $7.00, what right does some “progressive” have to tell either of you, that you can’t work for that much?
No-one is “exploiting the workers”, if those workers took the jobs voluntarily, and show up for work voluntarily… If all you can find is a job for less than what you want to work for, you’re not being exploited, THAT’S ALL YOUR LABOR IS WORTH TO THOSE EMPLOYERS.
You may think your labor worth more, but things aren’t worth what you want them to be worth, they’re only worth what someone else is willing to pay for them.
But let’s be generous…
All that said, I don’t think we’ll be able to eliminate the minimum wage any time soon.
So, to those “progressives” who would say “let’s make the minimum wage keep up with inflation”, I agree wholeheartedly… Let’s make it $4.19.
Oh and if you don’t believe me on these numbers, they come from the department of labor, the department of commerce, and the census. If I’m lying to you, it’s with the governments own numbers… the same ones “progressives” are lying to you with.
Sunday, December 28, 2014
A caravan is traveling down the road, and a lone mongol comes riding up, with his war cry and his sword, and orders the caravanners to stop...
So they do.
He waves his sword and shouts, and orders them all to line up in a row...
So they do.
He yells and waves his sword and orders them to give him all their gold and their goods...
So they do.
He yells and waves his sword, and he goes down to one end of the line, and orders the caravanner to get down on his knees and kneel over...
So he does...
...and the mongol chops the caravanners head off.
He yells and waves his sword again, and orders the next caravanner to get on his knees and kneel over...
So he does...
....and the mongol chops the caravanners head off.
Three guys down the line, a caravanner says to his friends "hey, there's only one of him and there's a dozen of us... let's rush him, he can only get one or two of us"
The rest of the caravanners grab him, beat him up, and say "what are you crazy? You might make him angry".
In that, I included a list of democratic senators who were up for re-election this year, their position on gun control, and how "at risk" their seat was:
Stupidity, Politics, and Electoral Math
So, now that we have the results of all of their elections, let's see what the last two years hath wrought among them:
XX = Unelected (or resigned and replaced by Republican)
- XX - Alaska - Mark Begich - Very Pro Gun - very unsafe seat
- XX - Arkansas - Mark Pryor - neutral - very unsafe seat
- XX - Colorado - Mark Udall - neutral - not a safe seat
- Delaware - Chris Coons - Very anti-gun - safe seat
- Hawaii - UNKNOWN (special election to replace Daniel Inouye) - safe seat
- Illinois - Dick Durbin - Very anti-gun - safe seat
- XX - Iowa - Tom Harkin - Very anti-gun - iffy, can't afford to screw up
- XX - Louisiana - Mary Landrieu - neutral - very unsafe seat
- Massachusetts - UNKNOWN (special election to replace John Kerry) - safe seat
- Michigan - Carl Levin - very anti-gun - safe seat
- Minnesota - Al Franken - very anti-gun - not a safe seat
- XX - Montana - Max Baucus - very pro-gun - iffy, can't afford to screw up
- New Hampshire - Jeanne Shaheen - very anti-gun - not a safe seat
- New Jersey - Frank Lautenberg - very anti-gun - safe seat
- New Mexico - Tom Udall - slightly anti-gun - safe seat
- XX - North Carolina - Kay Hagan - very anti-gun - not a safe seat
- Oregon - Jeff Merkley - very anti-gun - safe seat
- Rhode Island - Jack Reed - very anti-gun - safe seat
- XX - South Dakota - Tim Johnson - very pro-gun - very unsafe seat
- Virginia - Mark Warner - very pro-gun - not a safe seat
- XX - West Virginia - Jay Rockefeller - moderately anti-gun - very unsafe seat
Lotta XX's there... 9 actually, out of 21 (10 of those 21 were considered safe seats, barely challenged by Republicans). Pretty much every anti-gun democrat that wasn't in a safe seat, except Shaheen and Franken.
And THAT folks, is why we will not have any significant gun control on the national level any time soon.
Monday, December 22, 2014
If you're unfamiliar with the concept of "cultural appropriation" here's a definition (from wikipedia):
Cultural appropriation is the adoption of elements of one culture by members of a different cultural group, specifically the use by cultural outsiders of a minority, oppressed culture's symbols or other cultural elements. It differs from acculturation or assimilation in that cultural "appropriation" or "misappropriation" refers to the adoption of these cultural elements, taken from minority cultures by members of the dominant culture, and then using these elements outside of their original cultural context.Cultural appropriation, is often taken to be an act of racism, or at best racial insensitivity or intolerance, and in some cases, this can be a valid interpretation... SOME cases.
To be clear, Iggy Azalea doesn't claim to be black, pretend to be black, doesn't "act black" (whatever that's supposed to mean) in her normal speech, accent, or mannerisms etc... She simply raps in a style commonly used by black rappers.
Here's a video of her biggest hit to date "Fancy"(which hit number one earlier this year):
Overall, there is outrage, among the easily outraged, that a white woman is "acting black", and that this is racist, disrespectful, and cultural appropriation. Also, that she is racially insensitive... even stupid... And that in general, she sucks.
While I don't disagree that Iggy Azaelea sucks (actually, she's quite capable as a performer... she sucks on purpose, because it makes her... and her producers who really run the show... a lot of money), I hold the entire concept of "cultural appropriation" as a negative thing... or even as a thing... as not only false, but harmful.
If it was done mockingly, or deceptively, sure... but we're talking about a performance style, not someone actually passing themselves off as a different race.
More importantly, nothing is being STOLEN... You can't steal a cultural identity, or a performance style, or a form of artistic impression.
She isn't copying anyone in particular, she isn't plagiarizing, and she isn't stopping black people from rapping in the same way, or making money doing so.
No race "owns" any type or style of art. Just because someone of one race chooses to create or perform a style of art most commonly created or performed by another race, does not invalidate that art, or make it racist.
To suggest otherwise is to suppress freedom of expression.
It is also to suggest that Nat King Cole, Charlie Pride, and Harry Belafonte were illegitimate... or that the Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, The Yardbirds... Yeah, I could go on, about both sides... for hours.
I personally sing blues and soul. I love the music, it moves me, and I sing it very passionately, and well, with a great deal of emotion and expression...
If I preform this music as it is intended to be performed... or at all... Is that racist cultural appropriation?
I love Indian, and Mexican food... is it racist cultural appropriation if I cook and serve these foods in a restaurant?
Or is that just ridiculous?
Now... to criticize Iggy Azalea for racial and cultural stupidity... I'm right there with you.
But the whole cultural appropriation concept... or the notion that it somehow diminishes anyone or disrespects anyone... really needs to die.