Speaker & room calibration

I was lucky enough to pick up a Behringer Ultracurve Pro DSP8024 for a mere £50 on eBay recently. It turned out to have a buggy OS version (1.2), and Behringer very kindly sent me a replacement EPROM with a new 1.3 OS on it, which works just fine. I now have it installed between my Soundcraft mixer and my Wharfedale active monitors. I used its “Auto-Q” calibration routine and put up with some quite loud pink noise to calculate a room correction curve. Because it knows the spectrum it’s generating, it assumes that what it gets back has been altered by the combination of speakers, room and microphone, so it can calculate an eq map to compensate for it. It’s quite fun to watch as it has a nice big LCD screen to display the 31 1/3 octave bands – the initial spectrum is fairly peaky, but as it iteratively applies corrections you see (and hear) it flattening out. It’s also very obvious that my monitors don’t put out much below 50Hz (it analyses down to 20Hz), but that’s to be expected from a moderately sized box with a 6.5″ driver. The results are really pretty good, sounds lovely and smooth, but the real surprise is when you’ve been listening to it for a while and you switch out the EQ – it’s really quite a shock to hear the uncorrected version. Lots of purists don’t like room correction by EQ, saying it’s better to fix the room in the first place, and also that EQ calculated like this is highly dependent on the listening position (which it is). I have a lots of bookshelves facing my speakers; they make fantastic diffusers, and I have some Universal Acoustics absorber tiles on the sloping ceiling above my listening position. The longest room mode will be fairly undamped (I’m not about to start hanging duvets around the walls!), but the resulting EQ is below 6db in either direction across the whole range – I’ve heard of rooms with 24db peaks! Anyway, after all that, it sounds lovely, and I’m happy!

The web developer’s holy vhost trinity

When you’re developing web stuff, working with projects in path names (i.e. not at the top level of a domain) can be difficult (gets in the way of absolute links, rewrite rules etc), so you often need to set up a local apache virtual host, stick an entry in DNS and create an SSL certificate before you can get on with the serious business of doing some real work. This can get to be a drag when you do it a lot, but there is an extremely elegant solution that means you’ll never have to do it again…
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Ginger and Honey Snaps

I had this peculiarly specific desire to make some biscuits that were crunchy rather than chewy. Nigella didn’t seem to have anything that fitted the bill, but I found this recipe in Rachel Allen’s “Bake” book that I got for Christmas, and have had good results with so far. When rolling out the biscuits (definitely the best part) I thought they looked oddly like small potatoes. Next time I won’t squash them quite so much so that they stay a bit rounder. While I was baking there was an enormous rainstorm, really quite spectacular and unexpected as it had been quite sunny all day. They came out brilliantly (if I say so myself), a lovely crisp mixture of sweet and spicy, exactly what I was after. As usual, the main problem with making biscuits is that I eat them, which isn’t terribly good for me. I did send some round to Sandeep and Pam though, and they are proving handy for bribing Zoë.

Changing MacBook Bezel

I recently had cause to change the bezel on my rev A 13″ MacBook. If you follow the guide on MacFixit, it is a long and complicated procedure, involving dismantling nearly everything. Luckily, most of it is unnecessary – it’s really quite easy to simply remove the bezel without dismantling anything; just jump straight to step 35 and carry on from there.