Music

Quicklook at Songbird

So I’ve actually been interested in the Songbird project for a long time. I have installed various versions and have always turned away for different reasons. One of my large problems is I have an extremely large music collection and have found that WinAmp deals with it approximately the best for features that I want versus being free and not too cumbersome. I really just want good searching on a large library and nice smart playlists (dynamic playlists) that support a lot of conditions without too much trouble. Features past that are nice to have but not needed. The latest version (1.1.1) has a really nice interface and imported my library rather nicely. I was in the middle of listening to a podcast on iTunes on my Mac, so I didn’t play with it too much on my Windows install. So I installed Songbird on my Mac and asked it to grab my iTunes library (which is mostly podcasts I haven’t listened to and a little bit of music). It seemed ok with it though it didn’t grab my podcast subscriptions (which is annoying though not unexpected. So next step was to ask Songbird to subscribe to a podcast. It’s most definitively not the most intuitive thing in the world at this point as it only seems to support RSS or a single location (if I’m wrong, please correct me). It’s not that bad except it doesn’t seem to understand that a lot of podcasts are not something you want to keep. So podcast features could use to still improve. What really struck me was the resources. So Songbird was just sitting idle now on my Intel Macbook and iTunes was currently playing back an mp3 podcast (mono but reasonable bitrate). Songbird was taking ~100MB of RAM just sitting there while iTunes used ~23MB to play back. Ouch. Even more surprising was that Songbird was taking between 8 and 10 percent of my cpu (again, doing nothing) while iTunes was taking about 4 percent while playing back. Again, ouch. I don’t want to say Songbird is all bad by any means. It does seem to have a very nice installer and “assistant” for setting things up (like how Quicksilver does which I think is a very good system when done well). I’ll try to post a more detailed review after actually using it for music and maybe some music/web browsing after I do use it. It also is a good multiplatform mediaplayer. I just do believe at least the Mac client could use some more optimizations before I want it to take over for iTunes on my laptop that I like to try to optimize battery live anyway. If...

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Cardamar – Where The Skys End

This is Cardamar‘s latest full length album. I must say to start off that it is not simply more of what was seen in Steam. To give a perspective for the rest of the review, I liked Steam in so much as I thought it was good. Not great, but it was good. The sounds seemed a bit rough at times and it wasn’t as smooth as I tend to like my chillout, but overall it was good. I will also be making references to the style of Steam later, so I would suggest at least previewing the album. The album starts off with a 2 track intro (of sorts). It is a very ambient introduction that seems to bring you to a dark and somewhat problematic location. It is another album that seems to want to take the listener on a trip, but this is a very different trip than what was seen in In Medias Res. In the second track, Distant Scenery, you get a bit of curiosity brimming in an otherwise desolate environment. The music become more interesting and much more chill than ambient. The same feeling gets much more intense as we enter Start, my personal favorite track of the album (though song 5, Stuck In a Loop, is very close). This takes in a lot move bass than a lot of chillout, but in a very cool way. I honestly was taken off guard by how cool this track really sounded to me. The two tracks really blended together well to give me a strong feeling. It seemed to calm down for a moment only to come rushing back again at full force. The track does conclude nicely before it seems that we move into Root Escape, the next track. Up to this point, you wouldn’t really know that Steam and Where The Skys End were done by the same artist easily. It is a very different starting feel. I really like this part. Root Escape has actually been up on chilloutmixes.com for a very long time, but it isn’t the same version that is here. This version holds a much darker feel, but it does seem to bring something of a light to the end of the tunnel. I do get some of the feel of Steam starting to show here. Stuck In A Loop is the next track that seems very much like a bridge between the Steam-like ending part and the new style beginning part of the CD. It has a very interesting feel to start that slowly seems to bring some of the harsher tones that you might recognize from Steam into play. A subtle voice track is used at...

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First Impressions: Cowon D2

As mentioned in my post earlier today, I just got my new media player, a Cowon D2. Let me clarify farther: I got this device yesterday. As such, some of my opinions might change with more use. I loved my last Cowon player (my iAudio M3) until the battery stopped charging enough for it to be useful. Now I use it in my car and still love it. The sound quality was great and the design, while weird, was actually well thought out. My new D2 shares these qualities. I have never heard my ear buds sound so good. I actually like most of the initial presets for sound levels (except I prefer the balance of the rock equalizer). It just makes rich beautiful sound naturally. The interface itself is different. You use the 2.5 in. touchscreen for everything normally. It isn’t cumbersome or anything if you do realize that it takes one tap to just wake up the interface. I actually see that as an advantage to stop stray taps from doing anything. Scrolling in songs is the only action that is a bit difficult to just use your fingers to do, but it isn’t impossible. Also, if you are anything like me, you only use next track and previous track; scrolling inside of tracks is a feature I pretty much stay away from. The screen itself is bright and vibrant. I have yet to encode a movie and try it on the screen, but I imagine, although small, it does seem to have a good picture. Lines are crisp and colors seem very accurate. The size and weight of the device are quite comfortable to carry. I left it in my pocket all day without even noticing it there. Also, walking with it seemed rather natural. The device has two ports: a 5 pin usb mini b (the normal usb mini) and a 4 pin usb mini b (smaller than the other). The 5 pin is used for everything from data transfers to TV out if you buy the cable. The 4 pin is used for charging from the wall. I would suspect if you have a 4 pin cable, you could charge from your computer as well, but I have not tried it (i don’t have a usb a male to usb mini 4 pin b male cable laying around). To transfer files, it mounts as a standard usb mass storage device and you can transfer files by copying folders into wherever you want. I used my ubuntu linux set up to copy my files over without any problems. The device seems a little slow (it seems to take a chunk of data, hesitate, then continue),...

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Tutorials will be delayed again

Somehow I am having a very bad time with electronics. A lot of them around me aren’t cooperating resulting in something breaking. As I try to stay on top of this, other things have been pushed back. I apologize again. I’m not going to give a target date so I don’t have to worry about writing delayed messages. Review of Cardamar’s cd should come in the near future though. Also, Freefalling into Freedom (on chilloutmixes.com) is a great mix. The use of kettle was somewhat surprising but very well done. Check it...

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A little delayed…

Ok, so my ajax-foo is no where near where I wanted it to be (though a small error, it was still annoying…). This resulted in the update to chilloutmixes.com taking until earlier today. It is now done and you can subscribe to the list from the main page (the list I will be sending announcements whenever a new mix is available or site related news). I will not be emailing the updates by hand anymore, so anyone who is currently getting updates will no longer receive them unless you subscribe to that list. The tutorials are coming later still. I hope to finish them … um.. maybe by tuesday. So just hang in there! I made the reward better in compensation for the delay and will make it easier to get even without doing the optional third demo. Sorry for the delay. Also, there is a new mix from Cardamar available. Honestly, i haven’t even listened to the full thing yet, so head over to chilloutmixes.com and check it...

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Getting distracted again

Ok, so I’ve had a lot of other things to play with (Including a Sidekick 3 and a PS3) which has this tendency to take away my time. I’m also working on getting chilloutmixes.com set up better for announcing new mixes. All of this is taking up my time. The curl demos are done being created, but I haven’t had the time to set up the tutorial to solve them. Um… I’m getting to it. Sorry. Also, I just got Cardamar‘s latest CD. I need to write a review on that as well. There was a new mix released by Marco Torrance in the past couple weeks also, so be sure to check out chillout mixes if you haven’t recently. That’s all i can say for...

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