Podcasting from SXSWi

While here at SXSWi to build interest in Localtone Systems, I’ve had the opportunity to do a little podcasting.

Saturday’s podcast with Albert Maruggi and the Marketing Edge gave me the chance to enjoy a cold beer at the UK Trade and Investment booth. (Only UK compatible plugs  so I couldn’t plug in my laptop. Charming and a pain in the ass at the same time.) Albert and I talked alot about the SXSW experience and what is going on. Sounds like I have a co-pilot for next year.

Sunday was the day we had chosen for the Minnov8 Gang podcast. The Pepsico Podcast Playground allowed me to have some privacy inside a tent/booth that made me feel like I was on the set of Sleeper. We spent the hour talking and laughing about the trip, the setting, and what some of our Minnesota companies are up to. 

With one podcast to go (with CC Chapman for the ADM) I’m looking forward to meeting more folks and bring crowdsourced music to the world via Localtone Systems! Afterall, there is plenty of action and more to do than look for power and solid wifi connection.

I Want Better Sound…and That’s Vinyl(?)

I mentioned in my New Media Resolutions post at the first of the year that I want to do whatever I can to improve the quality of audio on line and in downloadable media. I was reminded of that “cause” this past Sunday morning by the folks at, well, Sunday Morning. The CBS show presented a piece on how vinyl records are becoming “cutting edge.”

Just as I pointed out in January, the sound of what is being sent into the cloud needs to improve, if for no other reason than to avoid trying to figure out how to cram a “record” into your iPod. Seriously, for those that are my age, it’s unfair for us let those brought up on listening to audio in the mp3 format think that’s the best music can sound. For those that have never heard the sound of a vinyl LP you owe it to yourself to hear all of what the artist labored to put into the music, especially the parts the mp3 format has had to discard.

I know, I know, you’re going to say that the human ear can’t detect the difference between a vinyl album, a CD, MP3, WAV, etc. I’m sorry, I disagree. I hear a difference. And it’s especially noticeable in the MP3 format, the most popular format for portable devices and online streaming. The reason it is the most popular, if you didn’t already know, is that it is the smallest file size. An MP3 file is a fraction of the size of, say, a WAV file. File size is directly related to download time.

So what do we do about better sound quality on “the net?” First, don’t settle. If you can find a way to make that audio sound better then do it. Start with a Variable Bit Rate setting if you can. VBR allows the music to be compressed in places where the full audio spectrum will most likely not be missed, a fade in or out for example. Another option would be, with such advances in bandwidth and more and more access to higher speed connectivity, offer your audio in the WAV format. I’ll take a WAV over MP3 any day.

Whatever the case, I refuse to settle for what we now accept for high-quality audio. I don’t believe going back to vinyl is the answer. Memories of the cracks and pops of an over-played album and the need for the pennies on a tone-arm are enough to keep me away from climbing on that bandwagon.

If, as Eliot Van Buskirk of Wired commented, vinyl is the nail in the CD’s coffin in his article back in December, and is the best we can do then I would have to be very disappointed in technology. And, to date, I’m not.

Look I have great memories of opening that new album (I still distinctly remember taking the shrink wrap off that debut Boston album…sigh.), but beyond the romance of it all, I don’t want to go back. Hey, I liked the show Happy Days…it doesn’t mean I wanted to slick my hair back and do the stroll. Let’s move forward.

Have you got some tips? Let’s have em.

New Media, New Year Resolutions

This year, I will…

everything I can to make the adoption of “new media” as easy for everyone as
possible. We “early adopters” can’t forget that most folks are still digesting
the internet as a whole, much less all it has to offer. There is so much more
going on than Google, iTunes, and text messaging.


there is a difference between sending a message and conversing. Spend more time
talking face to face or on the phone with people. Text, e-mail, etc. are great
for quick thoughts but can never replace the emotion of a great conversation.

 …work to
improve the quality and the content in my writing. I write more now than I have
in years and I want my blog posts to be more than articles. I want them to inform,
inspire, and entertain all at the same time. (Okay, this one is going to take a
lot of work.)

 …work to
improve the quality of the audio online. I was listening to my son’s iPod the other
day and realized that we’ve taught people to settle for audio quality that is,
to put it politely, not so great. When we adopted the CD we sacrificed some depth
to our audio, just as we did when we started using audio tape. Now that we are
using the internet as our main source of music we have sacrificed even more or
that sound quality. I heard a record the other day and I was blown away by the
sound I had been missing. If you have some vinyl around you should do the same.
(If you have no idea what a record is, please seek one out…maybe your attic?) I
had become use to the sound of an mp3, probably downloaded a terrible bit rate.
I will do whatever I can to hear more of what the musicians and performers
worked so hard to put into their recordings.

 …work to
improve the quality of video online. The same challenge faces us with what we
see online. With the advent of HDTV the bar has been raised even higher. What I
see on my Smartphone should look just as good as what I see on cable.

advertisers that the “new media” audience is of incredibly high quality and is
worth more than a traditional media user. There are already scores of studies  highlighting the incredibly high recall rates for online
advertising (even higher with a mix of media), we need to get the advertisers to respect that and think beyond “cost per

…enjoy more
time outside the ether so that I can bring more reality into it. Pull myself
out of the screen, away from the keyboard, and off the cell phone. I need to go
outside and take a walk whenever I can. In fact, there’s a new layer of snow
and a crisp morning waiting for me right now…

Happy New Year!

This post can also be found on the Association of Downloadable Media site.