Chuck Original Soundtrack arriving April 7th

While Chuck wrapped up in 2012, fans get a treat in April with the OST release for the series, featuring original score tracks and performances by Jeffster and Vik Sahay. A few key tracks will include “Take on Me”, “Fortunate Son”, “Fat Bottom Girls” and two bonus tracks of “Leaving on a Jet Plane” and “Mr. Roboto” from Jeffster.

Chuck was fortunate to see a musical score that catered to all the key moments of each episode, Tim Jones who sat at the helm has gone on to other work but finally this key piece will be available for the world to share in when it hits digital and retail channels on April 7th, 2015.

Fate/Zero Singer LiSA is coming to North America and Anime Expo 2012

Aniplex of America has been on a roll for fans, this summer they’re bringing LiSA to Anime Expo 2012 as a guest of honor and likely as a concert feature as well. As a bonus, Aniplex is bringing her work to a domestic release in North America as well, four of LiSA’s albums will be imported and sold, two of the releases will come in Limited Edition packaging with Blu-ray or DVD’s enclosed depending on the release. The whole package will hit retail on May 1st for those unable to get in on the pre-orders through Right Stuf.

Titles coming over:

  • Letters to U – SRP $32.00 | Store Price $25.00
  • LOVER”S”MiLE (Limited edition CD & BD Combo) – SRP $50.00 | Store Price $40.00
  • LOVER”S”MiLE – SRP $38.00 | Store Price $30.00
  • Oath sign (Limited Edition CD & DVD Combo) – SRP $20 .00 | Store Price $15.00

Pre-orders for those who can’t wait will start this Monday on April 2nd at Right Stuf so be sure to check back or you might miss out on some of those goods.

For those unfamiliar, LiSA made her hits with shows like Angel Beats as the vocals for Yui when singing, also her single Oath sign was chosen for Fate/Zero which helped shoot her into stardom.

Links: Aniplex | LiSA

AM2Con 2011 – Back to basics

AM2 is just wrapping up as I write this, but as a potential force it’s only starting after this inaugural year. For those that are veterans to Anime Expo it really has been the only pure Japanese animation event in town, you have SDCC but it has arms in everything out there. As opposition there are many fan events not run by the SPJA but often they fall under the radar, AM2 was anything but that with high profile members behind the curtain to arrange the show for an impressive first year showing with a new staff group and venue at the Anaheim Convention Center.

To kick things off, AM2 started this year with a unique proposition to everyone, entrance and events for the most part are free. Video panel rooms, live programming, concerts and even the exhibit hall weren’t checking for tickets or passes and the public at large was able to join as a part of this first year event. There were a few special events that did require it but even then the passport was a fraction of the cost to current major events. For the most part it took over the ACC by capturing upper floors and Hall B. With some extra polish there looks to be a gem here, I’ll go through my experiences from Day 1 at AM2 (unfortunately I wasn’t able to catch 2 and 3 due to some unexpected changes in plans).

Exhibit Hall:

This is the litmus test for many fans, if you have an exhibit hall stacked with retailers side to side, you’re considered godlike to most. Unfortunately conventions have been seeing less retailers in their halls though, if it’s the economy or high rental prices I don’t know. AM2 suffered in this area, what they did pack was quality but the volume wasn’t so high. You could successfully see and pass through the whole thing in a bit over an hour if you were taking your time through everything. A big issue that came as well was that Hall B is HUGE, having your exhibit hall crammed to the side and covered by drapes only hurts the visualization of the space. Honestly with 10 or so extra people selling it would have made a big enough impact to counter it. Bigger names would have been nice and even a corporate showing would help perk things up outside of Media Blasters.

Artists / Fan Art / Artist Alley

Again, a helpful measure to keep people busy or attract other fans, the area was largely absent from the show and what factors hit that are pretty unknown. When the retailers have some higher kicking prices though, many flock to the fan artists to save the day for cool finds. Catering to them early or with competitive spacing prices might have helped here, as a whole the community seems to be a bit regressed as of late from participation. It needed more though to make it attractive to those passing by.

Summer Festival

Until this year I had never participated in a Summer Festival, after this year I can say I would again if the prices were a little friendlier. I took my daughter this year to the event and she had a ball but for $1 per ticket it seemed steep. After about $10 we called it a day on the games there, had the games been 50 cents or less for kids with simple prizes or tickets for children it would have been a better deal. Even the staffers were shocked about the ticket sales for it. It shouldn’t be too shocking, from what I know most of these take place outside when it’s July and it’s on blacktop and anyone from the area knows that July on blacktop means that you’re slowly cooking yourself. Having the Summer Festival inside was a great idea, it needed more games though and maybe a little more style though.

Food

Having a legendary candy maker crafting animals isn’t exactly catering to food needs; having hot trucks with delights is catering to the food requirement though. I’m not sure if the ACC came down on the AM2 team or not but having the hot trucks outside was a bummer and many didn’t even know where they were because the arrow was pretty vague. Next time working out how to have them indoors lined up would be amazing because people wouldn’t be walking blocks to food places in the heat and not wanting to walk back or being too tired to finish the day. Integration is a must.

Live Programming | Video Rooms | Arcade

I can’t talk bad about this, after finding the LP rooms I was having a good time, between major events they were screening shows to keep the ball rolling which was nice. They actually had a variety of events to see and fan panels which was pretty epic. The video rooms were stacked through the day with break periods that didn’t actually hurt anyone, in fact if you needed to keep your fill going, you could walk over to the next room and catch something new. If nothing was meeting your need you could throw down on Street Fighter IV, 3rd Strike, Marvel Vs Capcom 2, DDR or multiple other games to get your action fill. These areas weren’t really lacking at all and were easily accessible.

Concerts

Having the entire 3rd floor of the ACC just for shows, there’s something magical there. The team from AM2 didn’t miss a beat on this one, the shows were probably the biggest impact on my visit to the convention this year. After years of having to wait in line for tickets and entrance it all stopped. AM2 adopted a Comic-Con style policy with a twist, if you’re there you can go in, if you don’t want to be there, you can go. You don’t need to wait for tickets or waste other parts of your day to hope to see something. If you have a passport though, you not only don’t have to wait if there is a will-call line, you can just get inside and have fun as you wish. This year it worked out that everyone could pretty much enjoy things, I have a feeling next year will be a little harder to pull that off. Music acts for AM2 had my jaw on the floor, Heidi was amazing to see and even my daughter was jumping and dancing to the music which was awesome.

Navigation

This is big deal that I saved for last, many that I talked to were hanging out in Hall B wondering if this was all there was to see, if the live acts would be on the Summer Festival stage and that it seemed like it would be much larger than it was. It looked like passport holders were able to get their hands on a book but freebie entrants had no real clue and the information booth wasn’t exactly standing out to everyone. Having a chart for the show on a large foam core board would have been nice. Having arrows or signs to lead people around would have been great too because the volume of traffic wasn’t high enough that everyone could just assume things. People need to know what’s going on especially when you’re sharing the ACC with another convention entirely. This was a huge black mark for my time there, I even had part of my party leave because they thought Hall B was all there was.

———-

It’s a shame I couldn’t be there all 3 days, I really wanted to but it’s not always so easy. I’m glad I attended day 1 though, it was a fresh twist on events I remembered being much simpler years ago. AM2 has a chance to redefine how everyone gets to interact at these conventions and I really welcome their efforts so far. I’m really hoping they can pull everything together in 2012, with more exhibitors, better social communication and more focus around the fan experience it could be pretty epic. Move the food trucks in, add some signs, bring in some extra retailers and see if some of the big boys will come down to hang out. The show took the experience back to the basics and made it openly accessible once again, it just needs to refine how it finishes that experience.

Also, needing more cosplayers. Maybe be one of the rare places to actually deliver a creative approach to series meetups instead of having security kick everyone off the stairs or everyone bake outside.

More info: AM2Con Website

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BAMFAS budget speaker buyers guide

I’ve seen a lot of forum posts and friends looking at speakers lately, there’s a lot of mystery behind what makes for a good set and how to get the most for your money on a budget. I’ll outline below a small section of how I go about picking speakers for myself or what I look for when reviewing a set of them. Without wasting too much time lets jump into the fray and get this going.

First a few key items.

  • Be honest with yourself, what do you want to do with these speakers?
  • Do you want to listen to music? watch movies? play games?
  • How important is 5.1 to you? Do you have the space and mounts to set them properly?
  • What type of listener are you?

I’ll go by category and you can go from there

2.0 / 2.1
5.1 / surround

2.0 / 2.1
Stereo speakers are coming back into the mainstream right now, everyone is using sound field emulation to try and create a surround effect. They do work but it depends on your needs. Because this is a 2.0 / 2.1 section we’re not focused on that to begin with.

  • Frequency response, anything around 28-45Hz at the bottom end, the top end is almost always 20-25KHz
  • Speaker size is a sensitive spot with a 2.0 or 2.1 system. Without a sub you want bigger satellite speakers, most come in a 2.5″ – 4″ variety, bigger is better in a 2.0 system as it usually gives you a lower frequency response. In a 2.1 system try to aim for a 3″ speaker, it’ll still give decent midrange.
  • Tweeters are something to shoot for if you’re aiming for full range, it also means that the midrange doesn’t work nearly as hard.
  • Cabinet material – most computer speakers have a plastic shell, some are even using metal now, ideally you want MDF or some wood composite. In a 2.0 system you probably will not get this. In a 2.1 be sure that the subwoofer box is some time of wood though as plastic will sound awful.
  • Subwoofer size in a 2.1 for music should be at least a 5.25″ speaker or higher. Some older sets came with an 8″ speaker for extremely good low frequency sound. 4″ subs are punchy and often lack any good range so try to avoid them at all cost.
  • Wattage is the worst measure of a good system, most people gauge what they by on simply this rating. What needs to be understood is the following.
    • RMS – If you’re looking to go by power ratings look at this and look at the distribution by channel. If you’re lucky you’ll get something like 25w x 2 for the front speakers and maybe 30w x 1 for the subwoofer in a 2.1 system or just 25w x 2 for a 2.0 system. This is the real power rating you’ll see in daily use.
    • Peak / PMPO / Burst / Max – This is the curse that haunts audio purchases. On a 50w RMS system you may see a peak or PMPO rating as high as 1000w, this is false and honestly just for chest thumping because it’s a theoretical peak level. Your speakers and amp will fail before you ever reach it.
  • Good power on a 2.0 system is around 35-50w for a bedroom or smaller area.
  • Good power on a 2.1 system will be around 40-65w or slightly higher, the boost here comes from the subwoofer not added power to the satellites.
  • This configuration works best in games and music, movies will sound alright but you’ll need to focus on speakers with 3D surround effects if you really want to run 2.1 or 2.0 and get a decent feel.
    • Budget brands – Logitech Z, Creative Inspire, Altec Lansing
    • Midrange brands – Logitech Z, Creative Inspire
    • Expensive brands – M-Audio, Logitech Z, Creative GigaWorks, Altec Lansing

5.1 / surround
Surround sound was huge in gaming for almost a decade, every major company got in on the game and it’s actually a bit hard to find a respectable set now. For the movie fan or hardcore gamer, these can be essential for a good experience.

  • Frequency response on a 5.1 set usually hits around 30Hz flat, some systems do try to claim lower but if you’re around here you’re good because most games and movies only go that low during explosive sequences or heavy crashes. Try to avoid anything that starts in the 40’s though because chances are you’ll have a lot of bottoming out from the speaker.
  • Speaker size is often pretty fixed on these sets, don’t be shocked if everything you find has a 3″ driver going for it. The response will be pretty decent.
  • Tweeters are welcome on the front or center channel speaker, generally if you get them in the front you get them in the back. If you go for smaller size enclosures expect to lose these as part of the compromise. Watch the frequency response of the satellite speakers if you get a set without tweeters, the midrange may be too high for your liking.
  • Cabinet material on a 5.1 set is almost always plastic for the satellites, try to go with something that doesn’t sound or feel too thin, you will lack the deeper tones but at least it will not produce a hollow tone. The subwoofer is usually wood composite or MDF on these systems, if it’s plastic I suggest running.
  • Input connections matter quite a bit depending on the use, I’ll outline the potential connections below.
    • Stereo / headphone jacks – These are great for PC systems to get 5.1 sound, almost every motherboard now supports 5.1 output from the back panel. If you plan to get 5.1 out of a gaming system or DVD or Blu-ray player you need something else. If you try to use it on a console you’ll just get bad emulation from the right and left front channels or sometimes stereo sound x5.
    • TOSLINK / S/PDIF jack – Perfect for the console hookup or DVD or Blu-ray player setup. Be sure to get a set that has the same input as your player or system though (most gaming and dvd systems use TOSLINK optical cables). Some PC systems also support this and it makes cabling a lot easier to setup. This is the more universal solution for most people.
  • Control pods are important to consider, are they easy to understand, do they have bass and treble control or even dedicated subwoofer volume control? Do you want theater modes as well? How are they designed? Some of the best control pods don’t need fancy looks, in fact spring tension on the knobs can be annoying when you’re just trying to up the volume a notch. Look for these qualities.
    • Surround modes – What does the control center feature? Can you adjust front, center and rear? Do you have Dolby and DTS support?
    • Stereo modes – Not everything you use will be in 5.1, for music the preferred method is stereo 5.1 or stereo x5 to just share the channels through all the speakers.
    • Input select – Was made popular by Logitech, if you plan to run multiple systems you should consider this for sure.
    • Control knob – Sounds silly but some control systems are designed around being futuristic looking while having really terrible function. If you can try before you buy I suggest doing this. If the control looks poorly built or handles terribly it will only get worse.
  • Subwoofer size matters, with 5 smaller speakers the sub will need to be located close to the user or in a sweet spot by the wall for the best spot to resonate. Most midrange speakers in this field don’t hit the lower end of the midrange, as such voices and natural sound are way too high so the sub in these sets covers that up. Aim for at least a 6.5″ speaker, although many companies are now using dual 5.25’s or 6’s instead which are okay. Few companies still give you an 8 or 10″ speaker.
  • Wattage is a nightmare on 5.1 systems, if you buy a computer set or a HTIB setup you’ll deal with insane power figures on the box. 1000W or 2000W aren’t uncommon and should only make you facepalm to see them. The following will look familiar for guidelines.
    • RMS – If you’re looking to go by power ratings look at this and look at the distribution by channel. If you’re lucky you’ll get something like 25w x 5 for the satellites and maybe 50w-70w x 1 for the subwoofer in a 5.1 system. This is the real power rating you’ll see in daily use, don’t aim too high as you’ll usually just get distortion at max power or it’ll overheat.
    • Peak / PMPO / Burst / Max – This is the curse that haunts audio purchases. On a 150w RMS system you may see a peak or PMPO rating as high as 2000w, this is false and honestly just for chest thumping because it’s a theoretical peak level. Your speakers and amp will fail before you ever reach it, expect this rating even from name brand companies.
  • * Good power on a 5.1 system is around 125-200w, most systems are high rated by default for the subwoofer power. Be sure to focus on speaker sizes and frequency response levels.
    • Budget brands – Cyber Acoustics
    • Midrange brands – Logitech Z, Creative Inspire
    • Expensive brands – Cambridge Soundworks, Klipsch
    • Legacy brands – Klipsch Promedia, Logitech Z, Creative GigaWorks, Altec Lansing

Hopefully this helps a bit, be sure to know your products before you buy them, ask for specification sheets when you need them so you can have an informed decision on those big purchases.

For those looking for buyer beware tips, avoid anything too good to be true, it almost always is. Sets from the back of a van, from a swap meet or other events are often false for ratings and use some of the cheapest components. It’s a deal until you set it up and hear the results, avoid the scams and take the time to get something with a real warranty that has been produced in the last few years.

To the audiophiles reading this, you already know what you’re doing so pretty much… this entire thing doesn’t apply to you.  Thank you for your time though, hopefully it was entertaining.

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Portal 2 gets more goods from The National

The National and Valve announced today the band will be adding a new track to the ever expanding Portal 2. While not a theme song, it will be unique to the game and written directly around the events to make for an interesting bonus to the existing game.

Not much else is being said so instead of talking about their accolades I’ll just note that everyone has about another month to wait until this hits retail and sucks everyone in again. April 18th is coming and none of us can stop it.

Also I’ve included a small gallery of pretty pictures from the game. Enjoy!

Rock band 2 song exporting

If you picked up Rock Band 3 but miss some of the classic jams from Rock Band 2, you are covered. You can bring (most of) your favorite songs into RB3.

Its a relatively simple process. just find the code on the back of your Rock Band 2 instruction booklet. Start up RB3 and select “Get more songs” from the menu. From there you should see “Redeem code.” Enter your code and you are done.

It should be noted that there is a $9.99 licensing fee to rain on your rock parade. There are a few omissions that couldn’t make it to the tour bus on time also. Not included in the transfer are:

* “Let There Be Rock” by AC/DC
* “Any Way You Want It” by Journey
* “Battery” by Metallica
* “Give It Away” by Red Hot Chili Peppers
* “Spoonman” by Soundgarden

Also the Harmonix band songs are not included but maybe available as a free DLC later.

Rock Band 3 scores the Piano Man!

A twelve pack of Billy Joel hits will be available for Rock Band 3 on Dec 14th. Joel had until recently been against lending his music to just about anything but was influenced by an episode of The Office. More specifically, a review of an episode.

No word yet on the track listings but it’s a safe bet that karaoke favorite, The Piano Man, will be among the tracks released for the new keyboard controller optional game.

Video Games Live invades PBS

For those that love video game music from any generation, Video Games Live should be something to check out. From Contra to the latest Civilization games the orchestra and guest soloists blow minds away with their interpretations of each song.

From July – August PBS stations will be airing Video Games Live as part of their special programming.  The CD and DVD/Blu-ray will also be available through November 1st 2010. The CD will feature 16 select tracks while the DVD and Blu-ray run over 3 hours of bonus material with extended segments and interviews.

For those doubting the rock power of VGL:

For those questioning the orchestra quality of VGL:

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Deadmau5 joins DJ Hero 2 crew

With the Fall approaching fast, Activision releases new information about DJ Hero 2 including the debut of Deadmau5 as an in-game character. For those new to DJ Hero 2 or the DJ hero franchise I’ve dropped some screens below, also check the DLC post to find more video with Lady Gaga and the Pussycat Dolls.

iZotope licensed for Rock Band 3

With Power Gig: Rise of the Six string arriving this Fall with a dedicated junior electric guitar, AirStrike drums and heavy talent like Eric Clapton, the team at Harmonix has to step up their game. Today iZotope announced that the Rock Band team has licensed their Pitch detection and Pitch shifting technology for the latest version of Rock Band.

The new software will let players really join the mix, when getting overly enthusiastic and singing well above the mic tolerance the game will voice code the and clean up the sound. While some may see the shift as cheap, it allows for a harmony when playing and makes allowance for anyone to sing in the game without feeling embarrassment.

I do hope that more details drop in so we know what RB3 is about this year.