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Scientists can’t get sloth to move
This is intriguing: Apparently Ry Cooder used the “sound enhancer” inside iTunes to master his latest album. According to the New York Times, Cooder has been struggling for years to capture the correct sound for a solo album; in fact, he’d delayed releasing the album for years because he couldn’t get the sound right. Whenever he took his mixes and burned a CD of them, they sounded “processed”.
Then one day he had an accidental breakthrough:
When he burned a copy of the album using Apple’s iTunes software, it sounded fine. He didn’t know why until one of his younger engineers told him that the default settings on iTunes apply a “sound enhancer.” (It’s in the preferences menu, under “playback.”) Usually, that feature sweetens the sound of digital music files, but Mr. Cooder so liked its effect on his studio recordings that he used it to master — that is, make the final sound mixes — his album. “We didn’t do anything else to it,” he said.
Apparently he’s the first known producer to master an album using iTunes’ sound enhancer. But what precisely does the sound enhancer do? I can’t quite figure it out. Possibly it’s a sonic maximizer, or an aural exciter — something that tries to restore audio frequencies and dynamics that get lost during the recording process. Interestingly, some audiophiles complain they have to turn the enhancer off because it ruins songs during playback.
Anyone know how iTunes’ enhancer works?
I'm Clive Thompson, a writer on science, technology, and culture. This blog collects bits of offbeat research I'm running into, and musings thereon.
Currently, I'm a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. I also write for Fast Company and Wired magazine's web site, among other places. Email or AOL IM me (pomeranian99) to say hi or send in something strange!
May 20, 2011 » 02:28 PM
From Christopher Kennedy’s very droll book “Neitzsche’s Horse”.
July 28, 2010 » 07:35 AM
“Wr” - S
July 06, 2010 » 10:05 AM
My Xbox broke, and I was trying to Google some possible technical solutions, when I noticed that Google appears to be encouraging me to make a typo. I suppose it’s possible that Google’s algorithms know that typing “wont” instead of “won’t” would produce better results.
June 29, 2010 » 05:00 PM
On the other hand, when I tried the test for multitasking, I was pretty abysmal. I performed worse than people who identify themselves as heavy multitaskers, and those who identify as low multitaskers.
June 29, 2010 » 04:58 PM
I finally got around to trying out the interactive “test your distractability and multitasking” page at the New York Times, which they put up alongside their story earlier this month about how computer distractions are eroding our lives.
According to the test, I guess I have good focus — I’m not very distractable!
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