Alex Due

Archive for July, 2010

Since I wrote about the Free! Music! Contest 2010 two weeks ago, I’ve been thinking a lot about which track I should submit. Finally I decided to go with “LXDU – Into The Void”. With almost seven minutes it’s the shortest track I was considering, apart from the Lorino piano pieces. And even seven minutes seem to be very much given that the winning tracks shall be pressed on CD.

Another possibility have been the Lorino piano pieces. But I wasn’t sure whether they would suit to the other participant’s music or not. I guess they range of music styles of the winning songs will be very wide, because the contest isn’t just about picking the best free available songs and pressing them on CD. It’s probably also about highlighting the diversity of free music on the internet. But acoustic piano songs?

After talking to one of the hosts of the contest I also submitted “Lorino – Music Made Me Think Of You”. I told him about the two different projects LXDU and Lorino and that I have them because I like to be at least a little consistent with the style of tracks a project releases. He said it would be okay to register one track for each of the projects.

Submission deadline is 31st of August. Hurry up!

To watch this video you need to install the Adobe Flash Player.

I’m Not In Love by 10cc on YouTube.

It’s only about a year ago that I came across this brilliant song and decided to buy it. Of course I heard it several times before. But I never really paid so much attention. A week ago I found this awesome making of.

To watch this video you need to install the Adobe Flash Player.

Making of: 10cc – I’m Not In Love on YouTube.

We are! At least that’s what a Swedish company is saying. WeSC—short for “WeAretheSuperlativeConspiracy”—is a clothing brand mainly focussing on skateboarding style. The company was founded about ten years ago.

Last autumn after some sightseeing in Stockholm I accidentally ran into their home shop in some side street. I didn’t know anything about WeSC, but the shop looked like fashion and I was looking for some clothes. I was instantly thrilled to see about thirty headphones in many different colours hanging on an iron rod. They were obviously designed to go with the shirts and sweaters on the table below and I couldn’t get around taking the picture you can see above.

Since then I’ve seen many people on the streets of Sweden wearing WeSC headphone. I think they are looking very good as a fashion accessory. As I can tell from my own experience Swedes (and probably also Norwegians) are pioneers in terms of fashion. They wear one or two years in advance what will then become trend in Europe and other countries. Certainly I don’t like everything of these new trends and I hope that some won’t spread. But I definitely like the phones. Over the last six months I’ve been watching out for people wearing WeSC phones in Germany. I’ve seen about half a dozen in Munich and Berlin, but apart from that there’s not much. I’m curious how long it will take until we see them all over the place.

My Koss PORTAPRO—which I love and wear with pride—are broken at the moment. There’s a loose contact somewhere inside the plug. Fortunately Koss offers a limited lifetime warranty on them, so I sent them in for repair. Hope they will be fixed soon. Anyway, I started thinking about buying new headphones which I could wear outdoors. Sometimes I don’t like ear canal phones even though some sound quite good. I usually use them for listening to news podcasts when I’m on my way. But having 5 cm wide speakers on your ears gives you a way better experience when listening to music.

This week I went to the only shop in my city which sells WeSC phones. I wanted to know how good they sound. The salesclerk was nice and it was no problem testing them. Currently there are basically five models:

  • Alp Horn (DJ, 100–120 €)
  • Bag Pipe (DJ, 130–150 €)
  • Bongo (premium, 60–80 €)
  • Maraca (retro style, 80–100 €)
  • Oboe (street, 40–60 €)

I started with the Bongo because two of those have a really fancy colour pattern. Bass and mids seemed quite good. But the highs were quieter than the rest which led to a lack of clarity. Maybe most people who aren’t into music so much won’t be bothered by this. But I’m more the audiophile kind of guy and I won’t be happy with a sound like that. Therefore I didn’t even test the cheaper Oboe.

In contrast the Maraca sounded very good and I was on the verge of buying one, because I really like the retro style shape it has. But sadly the Maraca doesn’t have a beautiful colour pattern like some Bongo have. Maracas are at most simply two coloured.

A mentionable feature of the Maraca is the unexpectedly low weight. They are pretty comfortable to wear. One thing which also caught my eye was the short cable. It is only 50 cm long. There’s an extension included which gives you another metre. But the reason this made me uneasy was that I once had ear canal phones with extension. That was annoying when carrying my MP3 player in the trouser pocket. I had to use the extension for that and plug and socket were so heavy that the cable was constantly pulling on my ear. However, this is no problem with the WeSC phones.

Finally I brought myself to order the Maraca Dark Shadow today. For me it’s the colour that fits best with the retro style of the phones. Other colours are white, black, red, and turquoise. The black one would be my second choice because it seems ageless. Third would be the stylish white one. But turquoise and red aren’t my favourite colours.

Let’s see how long it takes my new phones to reach me.

A few months ago I bought a new sound card for my PC, the M-Audio Delta Audiophile 2496. As the name suggests, it works with 24-bit/96 kHz.

I had used the Creative Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 for at least ten years. But I couldn’t use MIDI for the last couple of years which was really annoying … although obviously not annoying enough for me to buy a new card. With changing from Windows XP to Windows 7 I couldn’t find a working driver. The problem is probably that I use the 64 bit version of Windows 7. I tried some drivers I found on the internet, but none of them worked. So I had to think about replacing the Sound Blaster by a new audio card.


Reading several recommendations in internet forums I came across the Audiophile 2496 from M-Audio. Fortunately my PC has still a PCI slot. Nowadays most audio cards seem to use the new PCI Express slot.

The Audiophile 2496 provides me with everything I need:

  • 2 (left + right) analogue cinch audio inputs,
  • 2 (left + right) analogue cinch audio outputs,
  • 2 (input + output) MIDI, and
  • 2 (input + output) digital cinch S/PDIF (PCM, AC-3/DTS).

I haven’t worked with digital signals yet, but beyond that everything works perfectly fine.


A really nice feature of the card is that its latency is very low. You can adjust the buffer size in number of samples from 64 to 4096. Depending on the sample rate the latency can be at most 18/100 of a second (4096 samples at 22.050 kHz) or at least 7/10.000 of a second (64 samples at 96.000 kHz). To be honest, I haven’t tried the least setting yet. Usually I work with 128 samples at 44.100 kHz, which is a latency of 2/100 of a second.


However, I had some serious issues in the beginning. The card didn’t sound that good when I first tested it. The sound was distorted somehow. A strange high cracking noise was added, which appeared to come from some kind of digital source. It lay above everything which came out and even everything that went in. Recording the input showed the strange noise on the recorded audio. I could see the noise using Audacity to visualise the recorded audio.

First I thought of the latency being to low for my computer to be handled. But trying different settings didn’t work. I got the newest driver from the manufacturer website and searched the internet. There had been other issues with the card but I couldn’t find anyone having the same problem.

At some point the noise started to disappear sometimes. It took me some time to figure out what was causing this effect. Every time my computer was doing some more or less computationally intensive tasks, the noise was gone. This was reproducible using a benchmark tool. When I ran the benchmark the noise was gone, when I stopped it the noise came back. So I thought I must have something to do with the processor.


After talking to a friend who is more into hardware I played around with some BIOS processor settings. These days there are a number of settings which influence the CPU clock to save power.

The settings which caused my problem was “C-STATE Tech“. Disabling it solved the problem. It’s aim is to save energy when the CPU isn’t doing much calculations. I guess it somehow reduced the CPU clock too much for the audio card to do its job. Or maybe the card is too old to handle features like that. The setting was hidden in my AMI BIOS (v02.61) in “Advanced | CPU Configuration | C-STATE Tech“.

The German Musikpiraten e. V. (music pirates registered association) started the Free! Music! Contest 2010. The aim is to promote artists who publish their music under Creative Commons licences. One song per artist can be registered until the end of July. Participants can choose to upload additional stems of their songs which may be used by other participants in the remix-phase ending August 22nd.

Patron of the contest is the author Cory Doctorow who published several bestseller books under Creative Commons licences.

The result of the contest will be a sampler which will be available on CD and as free download. A concert is scheduled for October 2nd at Wiesbaden Kreativfabrik including performances of selected participants and an exclusive—yet so far unnamed—headliner.

Guess I’ll have to decide which track to submit …