Audio News for June 16, 2009

by | Jun 15, 2009 | Audio News | 0 comments

New Hassles of the DTV Switchover – June 12 has come and gone and stations and dealers are receiving many phone calls from those who somehow didn’t know about the whole DTV transition – in spite of the government having spent 1.5 billion in the public educational effort.  They have only analog TVs and over-the-air reception and either have no converter boxes or have them but not connected properly.  However, there is another group of unhappy viewers who either do have the proper converter boxes or new HDTV sets with digital tuners, yet as of midnight June 12 can no longer get a signal from some of their local TV stations that worked fine before. Some of them are sophisticated enough to know about accessing the re-scan option of their TV tuner, since many stations changed channels after most of the analog transmitters were shut down.

However, many users around the country still find they get a “no signal” response on stations that came in perfectly prior to June 12. The problem is that many stations have chosen that date to not only turn off their analog transmitters but also to change the band in which they had been telecasting for the past four years or so. A myth was promulgated at the start that all DTV stations would be on the higher-frequency UHF band, so many people purchased small and compact “digital” UHF-only indoor and outdoor antennas to use with their HDTVs or converter boxes. The truth is that although most of the stations broadcast their digital signals over the UHF band, 9% of them utilize the VHF band of channels 2-13.  76 markets in the U.S. have one or more DTV stations in the VHF band; their use of the UHF band was considered “temporary,” though it amounted to four years. Las Vegas, for example, has five stations on VHF channels. And some of these stations have cut their transmitting power at the same time, making reception in outlying areas even more difficult. (Remember that DTV reception is either On or Off, depending on signal strength – no marginal reception is possible.)  Unless you have a combination UHF/VHF antenna, your UHF antenna may not be able to pick up a station that has moved back to the VHF band. Add to all this the fact that VHF DTV reception is more difficult, even with full power. It is more subject to power line interference, airplanes and multipath distortion. Then with indoor antennas there can be problems with VSWR – the voltage standing wave ratio. Never mind the technical details, just know it’s a bad thing and more pronounced with indoor antennas, raising video noise to the point that you can get the “no signal” notice even without any outside interference present. The low-VHF band of channels 2-6 is even more problematic than 7-13, and one of the new DTV-only antennas doesn’t even cover 2-6.  (I solved my problem here in Portland, Oregon by getting out an old set of rabbit ears from the garage, putting it behind the set, and plugging it into the Antenna B input on my Samsung display for the three stations here who switched without warning from UHF to the VHF band.)

Retrial for Only File-Sharing Defendant Who Had a Trial
– A 32-year-old Minnesota woman lost her case two years ago with a decision in favor of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The companies suing are subsidiaries of the four major record companies Warner Music, Universal Music, EMI Group and Sony Music Entertainment. More than 30,000 similar copyright lawsuits were filed, accusing people of illegally swapping songs thru Internet file-sharing sites such as Kazaa, but none of the others made it to trial. Instead, most people settled for an average of about $3,500 each, even while insisting they had done nothing wrong. The lawsuits have become a PR nightmare for the recording industry. The attorney for the retrial said he hoped to turn the case into a trial against the RIAA, and added “What you’ll see in Minneapolis will be the first battle in what we think will be a successful campaign against the recording industry.”  A spokesperson for the digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation said “This case could end up being the tail end of a frankly shameful and certainly failed campaign to go after users.”

HDtracks’ Free CD-Quality Seven-Tune Download – To promote their CD-quality and Hi-Res music downloads, the HDtracks web site pioneered by David and Norman Chesky of Chesky Records is currently offering a free download of complete tracks from seven of today’s music legends, titled “Jazz & Blues Experience.” Included are tunes from Dr. Lonnie Smith, percussionist Olatunji and Dave’s True Story. Cover art and full liner notes in PDF form are also provided. Go to www.hdtracks.com/jazzdownload

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