Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Jodi Essex Interview

I just edited a video for my friends at The Vinyl Revivers. It's an interview with Christian Rock artist Jodi Essex. I was happy to help put this video together. Take a look and "smash the subscribe button" as they say. There should be more exciting music interviews to come.

Saturday, March 07, 2020

Bruce Hornsby & yMusic @ Strathmore 3/6/2020

Bruce Hornsby and yMusic played a fantastic concert of modern chamber music and Hornsby original compositions on Friday March 6, 2020 at the Strathmore Music Center.

yMusic played a 45 minute opening set of modern extended string quartet (i.e flue, clarinet, trumpet) music featuring music by several composers as well as yMusic's own self penned compositions. Other pieces played were from recent Grammy award winning composer Caroline Shaw featured on fellow New Amsterdam Records stablemates the Attacca Quartet.

Mr. Hornsby then took the stage and proceeded to play both new and crowd favorites on solo piano with subtle MIDI controlled synthesizer provided by an Apple MacBook. Hornsby is an incredibly versatile player easily mixing Rock, Folk. Classical and Jazz idioms in one composition. He also has an instantly recognizable sound that reminds me of James Taylor's comments he once called "Genetic Chords". Bruce played these recognizable "Genetic Chords" on the song The Way It Is to great effect.

After his solo set, he was joined by yMusic to help flesh out compositions from his latest album Absolute Zero which features yMusic's accompaniment. Despite the challenge of integrating Hornsby's freewheeling style and the need to provide charts to the quartet, yMusic proved more than capable of playing off script and improvising with the pianist. Clearly both Bruce and yMusic were in their element and having a very good time.

yMusic's accompaniment on such favorites as Mandolin Rain was particularly poignant.

Hornsby also referenced his recent surprise walk-on at a Bon Iver concert at DC's Anthem music club. Justin Vernon of Bon Iver is also featured on the album Absolute Zero.

The show ended with a fun song composed by yMusic which featured Hornsby singing along with Alex (from yMusic) without piano.

A truly musical and fun night for fans of Bruce Hornsby and adventurous music.

Sunday, March 01, 2020

Radar Development

I recently watched a very nice film about the development of Radar in England just before WWII. Free to watch with Amazon Prime. Castles In The Sky

Sunday, January 19, 2020

More posts in 2020

I hope to post more to this blog in the coming year. My posting has been dominated by my work on The DC Hi-Fi Group website.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Cheap RAAT usb device - Roon Endpoint Raspberry Pi

This is my recipe for creating an inexpensive Roon endpoint.

Cheap RAAT usb device.

1. Buy Raspberry Pi 3 B+ ($35)
2. Download Allo Dietpi RAAT ready image (dietpi.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=2317)
3. Use something like Rufus for Windows to burn Allo image to a micro sd (rufus.ie/)
4. Follow instructions to further customize Allo running (dietpi.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=2317)
5. Plug Raspberry Pi into USB Dac of choice (I use the excellent Khadas Tone Board).
6. Use Roon Settings - Audio to configure your new Endpoint
7. Enjoy musical bliss

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Fist bumps all around - Chick Corea & Béla Fleck @ Strathmore 05/10/2019

It was an extraordinary evening at Strathmore Music Center where certified virtuosos Chick Corea and Béla Fleck enthralled the audience with their music.

The concert started with the perennial favorite Children's Song No. 6. This song has been played in many incarnations. Most famously in Chick's most famous Band - Return to Forever. Béla and Chick took advantage of each of their instruments strengths to make this a rousing kick off to a concert of nearly two and half hours.

The concert continued from strength to awesome highs as the two musicians egged each other on to new musical plateaus. A wide variety of songs composed by both Chick and Béla were featured including many that appear on their excellent live recording Two.
During a short intermission, I had an opportunity to chat with the designated piano tuner who was touching up the piano between sets. He pointed out two interesting modifications that Chick requires for his Yamaha grand piano. One is a somewhat Rube Goldberg looking device that reroutes the piano's normal right side sustain pedal to the far left side. The other tidbit is the addition of small cylindrical metal weights precisely positioned at either end of the keyboard. The piano tuner was puzzled about their function but commented that he was instructed not to disturb them!

Several brand new compositions were played including a beautiful song by Chick called Reminiscence.

Béla introduced a song he composed for his newborn son, Juno, while waylaid in what he described as the "hell" of  the Dallas Ft. Worth airport. He spoke to the challenges of travelling musicians that caused him to miss his son's birth.

The concert ended how it began on a musical high note with two songs for the encore. The audience left fully satiated but always wanting more.

Monday, March 18, 2019

The new Khadas Tone Board USB DAC with the Sabre ES9038Q2M DAC chip is the new leader in low cost extreme high quality DACs. This device sounds fantastic. The sound quality is backed up by truly exceptional measurements that are only a whisker away from professional DACs selling for thousands of dollars.

Selling for only $99, it features both analog and S/PIDF outputs. The only oddity is you have to supply your own case. Currently you can have a 3D printed case made for about $20.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

The DC Hi-Fi Group Blog

I recently created the new DC Hi-Fi Group website to support this fledgling organization. If you are in the greater DC Metro area and have a passion for Audio and Hi-Fi topics then you would enjoy being a member. I am posting blog posts fairly regularly hence my neglect of this blog. I'll try to balance things out in the future.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Installing old print drivers when Windows won't help

I'm not a heavy user of printing but when I do print documents I like them to look their best.

I do have several laser and inkjet printers that I use for various purposes.

My workhorse printer is a HP 1320 laserjet printer. Amazingly, this printer was released in 2004 but 14 years later it is still working great. With cheap large capacity toner cartridges available from Amazon, its cost per page is very low. I do remember upgrading its memory years ago but that's the only thing I've done to it.

I was looking at print samples for color laser printers recently and was pleasantly surprised. I've been put off by the high cost of consumables, but again there are alternatives to make things more palatable. So, I settled on a new M254dw HP color laserjet that I ordered online for a little over $200.

The M254dw is a very compact wireless and duplexing color laser printer. It is a logical upgrade to my aged HP 1320. So far I am very happy. The HP consumables are about $300! Thankfully there are third party options for about a two thirds of that.

Since my HP 1320 was still working fine, I decided to move it to my Server (aka laundry) room and hook it up one of my QNAP servers. QNAP's OS is incredibly full featured and it was truly a plug and play experience of connecting the USB 1320 to the QNAP. The Server immediately recognized the printer and setup a print queue that was accessible over my network.

I was able to quickly configure a printer connection from my main computer to the new QNAP print queue. This computer already had drivers installed for the 1320 so it was quite easy to redirect to the printer now on the network.

The trouble started to come when I attempted to attach various laptops I have to the newly created print server.

Unfortunately, the drivers for the HP 1320 are no longer in the default Windows 10 distribution. Supposedly you can download drivers using Windows Update but every time I have tried this Windows Update says it is unavailable?

I spent a lot of time searching drivers or other ways to solve this problem. I looked at things like Apple's Bonjour which looked promising but in the end did not work. I scoured HP's website which has its own issues and downloaded their supposed drivers which all did not work. HP could probably provide a generic driver that would work, but obviously they are not motivated to do this for a 14 year old printer? I also looked at Microsoft Update CAB files but found that the DSIM command line install method does not work for Printer drivers?

Finally, I stumbled upon a solution that I will document here.

In this instance, you need an existing computer with working drivers for the printer in question installed and working. If you don't have this, you will probably have to connect the printer directly to the USB port of a computer and let windows install drivers. Once this is done you can proceed.

You need to run the Microsoft Management Console (MMC). Type Windows Key+R and type MMC and hit enter. Next, you need to install the printer plugin and then export the installed printers to a file. The details may be read here.

Once you have this file you can take it from computer to computer and do an import into MMC to install your printers. Simple in the end but very frustrating in finding this solution. I believe this is the definitive way to install an old printer into the latest version of Windows.

Addendum: I just discovered that the the Print Management Snap In is missing from Windows Home. So this solution only works with Windows Pro. Sigh.