Blog / Big AV

  • The Origins and Future of Music Piracy

    The impact of illegal downloads on the global music industry is a hotly discussed topic. In this article on the Drayton Tribune website, music journalist Edoardo Bonacia takes a look at how it all started and possibly, where it's going. Continue reading

  • A Beginner's Q&A To Vinyl Records

    2016 saw sales of vinyl albums beat the number of paid digital downloads for the first time ever. According to a report from the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA), consumers spent £2.4 million on vinyl records, compared with £2.1m downloading digital. The industry cites a number of factors for the increase in record sales; Black Friday deals, the popularity of vinyl as a Christmas present and the increasing availability of reasonably priced record players in high street supermarkets. Whatever the reasons, the return of vinyl, which began back in 2008, is clearly a phenomenon that is here to stay.

    vinyl begginner

    But for many music fans, vinyl records remain a thing of wonder and mystery. So if you're thinking of exploring this strange new world of analogue sound for the first time, Buzzfeed's Mathew Perpetua has put together some fundamental questions (and answers) that go a heck of a long way to explaining the apparently immortal appeal of vinyl recordings.


    Why should I buy vinyl?

    There are two basic answers for this: You are an audiophile, and fetishize the sound of analogue recordings, or you simply like the aesthetics of vinyl records, packaging, and turntables. It can absolutely be both! But the aesthetics, the physical aspect of it, is pretty key to its appeal. These records are more beautiful and substantial than CDs, which mostly have the look of office supplies, and they’re the best way to make purchasing music feel like something. Vinyl allows you to have a sentimentality about albums — there’s a tactile quality, a ritual to pulling a record out of a sleeve and putting it on and focusing your attention on the act of listening for a side at a time. Even if you still mainly listen to music on your computer or iPod, it gives you the option of having a more special experience with your favourite albums, and an object you can display in your home.


    Is buying vinyl a wise use of my money?

    Buying vinyl records today is the only way to purchase music that is likely to give you a return on your investment. You can’t resell a digital file, and in most cases, CDs have almost no value on the secondary market. Vinyl records — new or old — retain a lot of value, and so long as your copy is in decent condition and there’s some demand for the title, you can often make a profit if you choose to sell. You probably shouldn’t get into buying vinyl as a way to make money — there are much better and easier ways to do that — but it’s definitely nice to know that if you had to, you could sell your collection.


    I know vinyl is analogue, but what does that mean, exactly?

    Analogue means that there is a continuous signal in which the varying part of the signal is a representation of another time-varying quantity. So, when it comes to sound recordings, the instantaneous voltage of the signal varies continuously with the pressure of the sound waves. Basically, the groove of a vinyl record is like a drawing of the sound wave in a single continuous line through the entire side. Your turntable essentially reads that and decodes it in real time, which results in the sound you hear from the speakers.


    And how is that different from digital?

    Digital signals are not continuous. They are discrete, which means that they send a series of samples of an audio signal’s power at precise intervals. Sound does not naturally break down, so a digital system subdivides it into bits, the smallest possible form of information. This is binary code, so everything is broken down into one of two directives, which is typically described as 0 and 1. The benefit of binary code is that by breaking down information to its smallest possible form, it can represent virtually anything with only two elements.


    To imagine this visually, it’s like plotting points on graph paper. This sounds terrible, but the reality is that the end result of an analogue or digital signal is exactly the same after it is processed through an amplifier and played through speakers: You hear a continuous sound wave. There is no objective way to analyse the end result to determine whether the source was digital or analogue because we cannot actually hear digital code or analogue voltage fluctuations.


    Does analogue and vinyl really sound better than digital media?

    Sometimes. It depends on a lot of factors, and most of them have to do with the quality of your turntable, amplifier, and speakers, and we’ll get to that stuff in a little bit. If you’re listening to a vinyl record, CD, or high-quality digital file of the same song on a good stereo system, you probably won’t notice a lot of difference between what you’re hearing unless there’s a problem with the actual physical media — scratches, dust, defects. There have been many studies that show that the untrained ear can’t discern these differences, and that those who favour one format have a confirmation bias based on their preferences or values going into the test.


    Why do people like the sound of vinyl so much?

    There are aspects of vinyl records and analogue recordings in general that you definitely can notice beyond the pops and crackles of surface noise. Analogue aficionados will often attribute a “warmth” to pure analogue sound. This sound is actually a result of analogue’s limitations in capturing and reproducing sound, particularly on the low end of the mix. Digital recordings are far more accurate than analogue recordings and can capture a much broader dynamic range. Analogue recording is much less detailed, and the gaps in data result in a slight abstraction of sound that is often very pleasing to the ear. You get a very similar difference between images captured on film as opposed to digital cameras – purely digital recording can feel too precise, cold, and clinical, and lose the “warmth” and humanity many people associate with analogue technology.


  • The Continuing Rise Of The Disney Empire

    New Zealand born Mark Sweney is media business correspondent at the Guardian, which he joined in March 2006. Previously, Mark worked at Haymarket Publishing for six years, primarily as a news reporter, on Revolution, Campaign and Marketing weekly magazines. In this article published on the Guardian website, he examines how the Walt Disney Empire is heading for its biggest end of year profits yet—a super cool $7bn.

    Continue reading

  • Why Too Much TV Is Bad For Us

    A 2015 study has found that too much time spent watching television can increase our risk of dying from a blood clot. The Japanese study monitored people who watched more than 5 hours of TV per day and came to the conclusion that the subjects were two and a half times more likely to die from a blood clot—aka a pulmonary embolism—than people who watched only 2.5 hours of television daily. Continue reading

  • Radio Times Survey: What's Next For British TV?

    If you're curious to know what will happen to British television over the next ten years, then you are not alone. A recent survey carried out by the Radio Times invited a huge range of industry experts, writers and stars to predict how television might look a decade from now. It's easy to understand why—the Radio Times has been publishing listening and viewing schedules for over 90 years—so knowing the direction future television might take is kind of a big thing for the magazine.

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  • The Future of Home Entertainment

    (According To Deloitte)

    A recent article by Adam Flomenbaum on 'The Drum' highlights an interview with Kevin Westcott, Principal at Deloitte Consulting and National Media and Entertainment Lead. The goal of the interview was to get some kind of insight as to which direction Deloitte, a global professional services firm, sees tomorrow's home entertainment heading. The answers are quite enlightening... Continue reading

  • A Short History Of British Film

    For most normal film goers and home cinema buffs, it's easy to sit back and enjoy our favourite films without thinking about their heritage. We want to relax and get stuck into the latest big budget  blockbuster or made for TV action and suspense thriller. But the British film industry has a tradition that goes back a long, long way. And for all you film and history buffs out there, here's a brief account of how it all began: Continue reading

  • Home Theatre Ideas For Small Rooms

    For many of us A/V enthusiasts the fun part of planning our home theatre comes in the early stages when our dreams and ideas are big, our budgets still unspecified and our plans are grand. However, at some point reality does set in and we start to realise that not everyone can have a mini version of the local multi-plex inside their four walls. This is when the planning gets serious. But there's no need to lose heart. There's a lot we can do with today's modern equipment and with a little imagination and a load of sound advice from friends and experts, there's nothing standing in our way to getting maybe not the biggest home theatre in the land, but the best we could possibly build. Continue reading

  • The Best Box Sets of 2016

    So far, this year has brought fans of box sets a whole plethora of excellent TV viewing. With both new productions and further episodes of our favourite shows there's still no end in sight to the range of first rate entertainment on our screens. And just in case you missed any of these little gems, here's a quick list of the top box sets for 2016. Viewing pleasure guaranteed! Continue reading

  • A Beginners Guide To Virtual Reality

    Two years after the Oculus Rift first arrived on the shelves of our local computer shops and with some serious consumer-grade VR devices due in around Christmas, it's time to start thinking of Virtual Reality as 'here and now' rather than 'on its way.' And with that in mind we thought now would be a good time to take a look at the basics of Virtual Reality—what it is—what we can do with it and what actually is the difference between Virtual and Augmented Reality anyway? Plus we'll talk about which kind of PC we'll need to indulge in the VR environment and perhaps more poignantly, if we need a PC at all? Finally, we'll have a sneak peek at what the whole charabanc could be costing us—but with so many factors still unknown, no prices are as yet set in stone. Continue reading

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