Handheld recorders

Prestigious blogger Radio Geek enquired:

I will need to invest in a high quality mp3 recorder. Any suggestions?

As mentioned in this entry in ‘Tool Time’, Underwater Man uses Creative Labs recorders as very few other affordable consumer MP3 players offer line-in encoding.

Micro line-in cable

The ZEN Nano Plus is listed on Ebay Australia. Recording is performed in 160 kbps MP3 format. My model does the same. Item 270896704096. Brand new & around the $50 mark.

The ZEN V is listed on Ebay USA. Recording is performed in WMA 160 kbps format. The WMA algorithm is technically superior quality to MP3 since the compression is twice as efficient. Of course, WMA is perhaps less popular, so this might be a moot point. Item 250746566686. Brand new & around the $50 mark.

The ZEN Neeon 2 is sold by Minidisc Australia. Like the V, this device utilizes the WMA format for recording. $180.

I have always used the highest quality analogue tape available (video tape and audio tape) and never lost a single recording out of hundreds of clips. Even if a tape gets chewed up you simply splice the tape. Worst case scenario, you lose maybe 10 seconds of audio or video. The limitation is that uploading clips is a pain. Whatever is recorded on analogue media (and Minidisc) needs to be encoded to Wave format in real time using a computer sound card.

In the interest of full disclosure, using digital recording methods, I have lost a number of Es recordings this season. Data losses were incurred as a result of mechanical failure of hard drives, media incompatibility and buggy firmware. Note that the Creative Labs recorder mentioned has never failed to retain recorded clips, I’m just speaking in general terms.

Digital clips may be salvaged in some instances. Don’t expect digital to live up to the hype. I assert that advertising is inherently deceptive. Readers of this blog aren’t stupid. I think we can accept that perfection in humanity or technology is a fantasy that will never be realized. 🙂

Professional audio recorder

Digital is far quicker as it’s already in digital format. Duh! That probably outweighs the risk of data corruption or loss. It’s not fashionable but I’ve always maintained there is not an awful lot wrong with analogue technologies including television broadcasting. Analogue-based High Definition broadcasting was used in Japan. With the icon Kodak now ‘on the rocks’, it’s very clear analogue is very much a niche path these days.

Digital audio recording

Further Reading:
Top MP3 recorders from 2009
Difference between Line-in recording versus Mic

Ear, ear! Lend me your ears

While this is really scraping the bottom of the barrel, this exercise does illustrate how you can be as lazy as you wish with the hobby. For me, the most productive thing is to ‘set and forget’ at this final stage of the Es season where the likelihood of openings to infrequent regions may dissipate.

These stations were picked up during a two hour unattended DVD recording on 89.9 MHz in narrow mode yesterday from midday AEDT. The first clip is probably a brief burst of Sporadic E which happens from time-to-time during the Es season. Two clips are Meteor Scatter from a very frequently heard station. At least one reader will know instantly what this is. 🙂

Audacity waveform

This waveform shows first station rising like Olympus above the Serengeti, punctuating the white noise on this clear channel. These recordings have been down-mixed and thus down-sized to mono. That is not usual practice. However, since this exercise is just a bit of fun, stereo is overkill.

57th minute

77th minute

90th minute

Jelena Ristic

This article originally appeared on the now-defunct dbrmuz blog.

She is Novak Djokovic’s girlfriend. This morning, Serbian tennis player ‘The Djoker’ won the Australian Open at Melbourne Park again. Only just, thanks to an impressive comeback by one of my all time favourite players, Nadal. But Novak deserved this one. Truth be told, Nadal probably had only 10 minutes of poor play in an almost six hour, rain-interrupted match! However, that’s all it takes at this level to lose your grasp. It must be devastating for ‘No Nads’ (literally in this instance) but for this observer, the prize money awarded for professional sport is disgusting, so I am sure the loser gets over the losses somehow.

It’s pretty sad (or perhaps predictable) how every tennis player has to have the requisite (a) model girlfriend and (b) sports car. Think Gold Coast hoon talent Tomic. Sorry Bernie but you appear to be a tool the way your conduct yourself outside of the stadium.

Anyway, what was I saying again? Oh that’s right. Jelena is so passionate in her support of the Djoker as he plays. To this observer, it seems she’s not your average airhead who stays pretty for the cameras, in this case the infuriating Channel Seven coverage. Nor is Jelena a model. And she’s delightful in comparison to watching Leighton’s actress wife Bec who might as well be a cardboard cutout. Albeit a cute one.

 

I’ve always respected women who get involved with ‘us’ before we hit the big time, perhaps it’s a trust thing. I’ll leave it there, don’t get me started with my misguided assertions.

 
So here’s to you Jelena, you have differentiated yourself enough from the crop of hand bags that attach themselves to the rich tennis stars. Cynics, be damned! Be damned, I say! I just want to embrace this opportunity for some photos of Novak’s Milan counterpart.

Read article at the Montreal Gazette
Read article and view more photos at the International Business Times

Converting DVD audio clips

Connect the RCA cables from your tuner to the AV1-IN sockets of your DVD recorder. Select channel AV1 or similar when you make the video recording.

Rear AV inputs

Make the recording with your DVD recorder using XP mode. This mode seems to utilize the highest bitrate (256 kbps) AC3 audio on most DVD recorders. Record and edit your clips using a DVD-RAM, DVD-RW or DVD+RW disc. Note if +RW media are used only limited editing may be possible. Furthermore, with +RW media, the scope of editing possible (for example, dividing a title then deleting the unwanted portion) depends on your recorder. DVD-RAM is highly recommended if your DVD video recorder and computer drive support it.

Using a DVD-RAM with the LG 386D DVD Recorder

For simplicity, put only a single clip on each DVD. The file of the clip will be named something like VTS_01_1.vob or VR_MOVIE.vro on the DVD drive. The VTS prefix stands for Video Title Stream in case anyone cares!

It is convenient if you edit your clips using your DVD recorder using a feature called something like Delete Part or Trim. I think the interface is easier to use than doing so on a computer. However, we discuss computer-based editing in Option 2.1 if that’s what you prefer. By ‘editing’, I mean getting rid of the junk such as fadeouts and co-channel interference on the recording so your DX sounds as good as it can.

Editing clips with the LG 386D DVD Recorder

The options below require Windows XP operating system and a DVD drive that is compatible with the media you have chosen to use. If you don’t like Windows XP (for example, if you are using Windows 98 Second Edition or Linux) use the M Player method, described here to retrieve the audio. For me that method is actually quicker.

I want the original audio without any loss of quality. How do I get it?

Option 1.1 – AC3 MPEG stream

Download the open source software Virtual Dub Mod. Extract (demux) the AC3 stream from the VOB/VRO file (your clip). To do this, find the option Available Streams. Right click and ensure Direct Stream Copy is selected. Click on the Demux button.

Option 1.2 – WAV uncompressed audio conversion

Download the open source software Virtual Dub Mod. Convert the AC3 stream from the VOB/VRO file (your clip) to WAV format. To do this, find the option Available Streams. Right click and ensure Full Processing Mode is selected. Right click and ensure No Compression PCM is selected. Click on the Save Wave button.

Handling audio using Virtual Dub Mod

I want a lossy version of the original audio. How do I get it?

Option 2.1 – WAV conversion and editing

Use the resulting WAV file in conjunction with open source software such as Audacity to convert the audio to MP3, OGG, WAV or WMA format. Please aware that transcoding to lossy formats such as AAC, MP3, OGG or WMA may result in an audible loss of quality and/or increase in distortion regardless of the bitrate you choose.

You don’t have to use Audacity. The visual waveforms that the software produces are cool though! You can also Normalize and edit your audio if you haven’t done so using your DVD recorder (the recommended method).

The software that comes with your MP3 player such as Creative Media Source Audio Converter will also perform this conversion task, as will probably thousands of other free software programmes!

Option 2.2 – AC3 conversion

Use the resulting AC3 file from performing Option 1.1 in conjunction with free software AoA Audio Extractor Basic. This programme converts the AC3 audio to MP3, WAV or WMA format. Please aware that transcoding to lossy formats such as AAC, MP3, OGG or WMA may result in an audible loss of quality and/or increase in distortion regardless of the bitrate you choose.

Handling DVD conversions using AoA Audio Extractor Basic

Rear view photo by William Hook.

Video Blaupunkt Bremen

Video was recorded of the Blaupunkt Twinceiver on the weekend. I managed to hold the camera still with merely one hand. Yes, reminiscent of the freaky motor skills of Leighton Hewitt, I say folks! 🙂 Even audio of Bundaberg stations was barely audible through the microphone so this is brief demonstration of the upper band. Well, actually the evaluation software would only convert half of the video, that’s the truth!

The radio is identical electronically to the Blaupunkt Digiceiver. My man from Lithgow has hours of video footage on his blog illustrating the 100 kHz channel selectivity, specifically designed for the congested German FM band. Try this example. There are also plenty of video clips on Youtube from European enthusiasts.

Blaupunkt Twinceiver distant shot

The only significant differences between the Twinceiver and the Digiceiver are cosmetic and the provision of twin dual diversity antennas. The latter feature of the Twinceiver suppresses interfering signals and multipath distortion. Theoretically, the radio was designed to continually monitor each antenna to select the strongest or cleanest signal without user intervention. For example, the dual diversity system can eliminate the signal from the Hot 91 translator on 97.9 MHz to provide clear audio of 2ABCFM Coffs Harbour. Such a system is noticeably more effective on mountain tops (when three or four interfering signals typically bastardize any one frequency!) than a Blaupunkt Digiceiver which employs a single antenna.

By holding down the Menu button, the diagnostic screen appears. All functions still are available when this mode is selected. The data displayed includes: RDS data quality, Signal Meter, Signal Quality, Filter Width and Antenna data.

This radio also has a tuning knob like many modern factory radios. The current aftermarket version of this radio is marketed as the Bremen.

Laura Hall

This article originally appeared on the now-defunct dbrmuz blog.

According to the Guardian:

The 21-year-old is Britain’s most notorious drunk – the only person in the country with an order banning her from all pubs, clubs and off-licences. She is the poster girl for Booze Britain. Newspapers have revelled in the stories of her 40-plus arrests, her numerous assaults on police officers, her two prison sentences, the number of pints and vodka shots that will see her through a night out. 

A film maker documented Laura’s rehabilitation attempt and highlighted her six year stretch of binge alcohol consumption. The BBC doco aired on Wednesday night on ABC2.

Portable reception

Here are some long distance catches received during the last fortnight using the Tecsun PL-300WT portable radio. The radio is equipped with an extended telescopic antenna and was used inside the house beside the window. Strong images from 4SBS Radio appear on the radio at this city location.

Sporadic E

Azimuth: east
Maximum distance: 1,635 km

Nouvelle-Calédonie 1ère 88.5 Loyalty Islands
Nouvelle-Calédonie 1ère 89.0 Nouméa
Nouvelle-Calédonie 1ère 90 Dumbéa

© 2012 France Télévisions Interactive

Plus an unidentified station on 91.5 MHz, possibly RFO 3 Nouméa.

Tropospheric Ducting

Azimuth: south
Maximum distance: 340 km

2MRR ABC Local Radio 92.3 Coffs Harbour
2ABCFM 97.9 Coffs Harbour

© 2012 Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Colour code:
Stereo signal on peaks
Received over local station from the north or south coast