Whether you’re doing a video or audio podcast (or vlog), the importance of good quality audio remains throughout. Your production value is absolutely determined by the ability of the audience to hear and understand the message conveyed in your content. Here are my top five audio mistakes frequently made by vloggers and podcasters…
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VGA has been an active video standard for personal computers for a very long time. DVI and HDMI (along with the newer display port standard) are making a tough case for the aging analog port, though you might be surprised to find out that VGA is still superior in some ways…
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Have you ever been watching television and suddenly the commercials come on and you’re jostled by the booming voice of someone trying to sell you something? Why do commercials sound louder than the television show?
Advertising is typically talking head (one or two speakers and not a lot of music or sound effects) content that benefits from audio compression. Bringing everything to an even tone allows to speaker to sound consistent and avoids imbalance between two speakers that use their voice at varying volumes.
Audio present during television shows has more dynamic range, and rightfully so. Dramatic pauses, sudden surprises, and hushed whispers all need to have varying volume levels in order to draw the viewer in and keep their attention. If audio is compressed during a dramatic show, it’s done at varying degrees.
The audio levels between a television show and a commercial are actually matched as they’re sent over the airwaves (or cables) to your television. This is part of a limit required by law (at least in the US). The change in volume you notice is actually a perceived volume difference because where a television show saves the higher volume levels for action scenes, the commercial maintains that level constantly throughout the program. It does this thanks in part to compression present in the audio channel.
Here’s where your television comes in. Automatic gain controls and other nifty little tools allow the television to unintentionally do the advertiser’s work for them by automatically boosting a signal to a high point if it appears to be hitting a ceiling below the expected line. Your television will actually take audio levels that are set to the average amount of the television show and boost it all by itself.
While the FCC is flooded with complains from people claiming that the network is boosting commercials intentionally, this is actually the result of some clever engineering by the makers of the commercial and an unfortunate side effect of television technology intended to make everything sound even.
Taking one HDMI signal and bringing it to two screens sounds difficult, but it isn’t very hard if you have the right splitter. Sewell makes a self-powered 2 port HDMI splitter that allows you to successfully split a HDCP signal and send it to two destinations, simultaneously.
The difference between a splitter and a switch in relation to HDMI is based on whether you’re using it to split an output or double an input. A switch will allow you to go between two sources going in to a single destination, as mentioned in a previous blog post. A splitter, on the other hand, gives you the ability to take a single source and feed it to two destinations. The 2 port HDMI splitter made by Sewell is HDMI standard 1.3b compliant and capable of feeding both audio and video of up to 1440p resolution to two places.
Because the hub is powered by its own 5v power supply, the standard 16 meter HDMI cable barrier between source and destination is thrown out the window. Sewell’s site features a video boasting a 100-foot range from source to screen while feeding the same HD signal to another screen at 56 feet, without the aid of a separate booster. Whether or not this is a typical occurrence is yet to be seen.
The metal enclosure appears solid enough to withstand anything normal home usage would entail. In professional environments where use and abuse are part of everyday life, this may work in a fix, but a more professional-grade solution would be in order.
Because the splitter is HDCP compliant, both devices need to be HDCP compliant as well in order for it to work. Reviews at Amazon have indicated that standard definition signals require a little tweaking on the monitors to get right. This splitter can carry a 3D signal up to 24 FPS, so it doesn’t work with all 3D content.
Overall, the Sewell 2 Port 1×2 Powered HDMI Splitter is a standard HDMI splitter at a reasonable price. Available for under $25, it should be capable of filling the needs of any home user that would like to have two televisions carry the same audio and video. If you’re looking for something a bit bigger, you might want to look in to their 1×4 model.