Sunday, December 19, 2004

Home Entertainment Success!

I have an old PC connected to the stereo in the living room - it plays media for me, and will also digitally record if given the opportunity. This is pretty much home-brew, using an old ATI All In Wonder 128 and a SoundBlaster AWE64. It works pretty good, but I have been disappointed with the sound quality. I know compressed music has its limitations and I can live within that (mostly). But I also knew it could be better, because I used to be able to get that very computer to sound better. But the upgrade to XP actually downgraded the quality because a driver no longer worked properly. The point of my story being that the windchill today never got above 0 F and I wasn't leaving the house for anything. And thus had a chance to dig into the problem. And I found a version of the 'driver' (actually, a plugin for WinAmp) that functioned properly, and now we're sounding good. I even fired up the CD player and played the same song through both, and equalized it up. There is a difference, but nothing you'd ever notice without the comparison.

The plugin is really quite genius. It is specific for the AWE 32/64 line of soundcards (old), and the writer realized that the MIDI chip on those cards was actually better at rendering digital data into sound than the normal chip was, and wrote something to do that. An added benefit is that you can apply the various MIDI effects natively to the sound. Slow it down, speed it up, weird echo/delay effects, choruses. Wild! [said as Bob Hope/Dick Cheney]

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