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151  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Sagelight Editor - $39.95 Lifetime Promotion Ending July 1st on: November 27, 2011, 04:58:24 PM
Thanks for the continued responses Rob. I'm very curious to see your take on all of this, pricing certainly, but perhaps more interestingly the balance between ease and power, amateur vs. pro functions. Definitely looking forward to seeing some of your ideas tested in the market. Maybe I'll learn something new! smiley

- Oshyan
152  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Sagelight Editor - $39.95 Lifetime Promotion Ending July 1st on: November 27, 2011, 03:03:30 AM
Yow, so much to respond to! Frankly I'd really rather do it in email. Is anyone else really interested in this depth of discussion about SL? lol. If not, I'm going to go back to email for much of this.

I will respond to a few things here though.

First, I'm not really clear at this point what your goal with developing and publishing (selling) Sagelight is. Is it your sole living, and if so is maximizing profit, or at least maintaining a living wage, then a priority? Are you doing it for the originally stated reason, you wanted an image editor that did things you couldn't find any other apps doing? If so that drive remains surprisingly strong! How much of a priority is it to maintain "accessibility", both in pricing and in functionality?

Second, you seem to have some desires that are potentially conflicting, or at least challenging to reconcile (again speaking from experience). The casual user, the amateur, has rather different needs and *abilities*, not to mention time and patience, as compared to the serious hobbyist and professional. Adobe doesn't just make Elements because they need something at a lower price point, they also change the UI and workflow a fair amount (for example Photoshop Elements actually has cataloging functions like Lightroom) because the home user has different needs. Frankly as a semi-professional (or at least serious amateur, in that I don't make money from my photos), I would rather you not be spending time trying to make a UI that caters to both types of users. It's very difficult to satisfy both with one product!

Regarding pricing, I still think you're really selling your product short. If you price to compete with Corel, e.g. Paintshop X4 ($30), you'll be brought down to their level (no offense to Paintshop fans!). Paintshop is an ok product, some people here really like it, but it just doesn't take imaging as seriously as Sagelight. It reminds me of the difference between our product Terragen and our competitor E-On Software's Vue product line. Their software is used professionally as well, but its focus is really on *tons* of features and ease of use. Basically, as long as a feature is implemented and ticks a box on the feature list, it's "good", even if the actual implementation is not great, even if the image quality is not great, etc. Terragen has a lot less features than Vue, but each of them tends to be more solid, higher quality, etc.

Anyway I don't really see you ever truly making people understand that underlying image quality value that SL has with a low price and a split focus on the average home user market. Splitting your product line will help, but the price point may *still* be an issue. It's important that you look at the right apps for comparison. SL is already on par with the likes of Lightzone ($99.95, discontinued), Bibble Lite ($99.95), DxO Optics Pro Standard (149€), and more at a similar price point, and from the sound of it what you're adding for v5 will put it on par with most of DxO Optics Pro Elite (299€), Capture One ($399), Bibble Pro ($199), and the majority of Lightroom's functionality ($299). The main thing you're missing that pros would want and that most of those have is lens correction. Catalog/digital asset management capability is another, but many people already use an external DAM and Sagelight has facility for that. Note also that many of these products have a similar lite/full or home/pro version split, like Bibble, but their lite/"home" versions are generally $99!

Now again I have to say I love that you're not jumping straight to high pricing and I'm not in favor of raising the price just because you can. *Iif* you can make a living pricing your product lower than everyone else and get at the market you want, then I applaud you. I'm just not sure that will work. And the tools SL has seem, to me, to have the potential to capture a different market, and in many ways I think are also above the head of most people who would buy a $39 app. So you may almost be hurting yourself there, by providing features that are not only not needed but even confusing, and at a price point that devalues those same features and the app as a whole. I know you recognize at least some of these issues, but you may not agree with others (i.e. you could argue that providing access to advanced tools but not forcing them on users helps them learn them over time and graduate to more advanced capabilities in their own time). I know you are also struggling with what to put in your high and low end versions, along with pricing of both. These are issues we continue to struggle with at Planetside as well, so I can't claim to have resolved them either, but I do have relatively long-term experience with it at least, and it's from that experience that I'm speaking.

In the end you have to make your own choices and I hope they will be successful. If you have the time and ability to stick with it for the long-term and remain flexible, then you can try other strategies if the one you choose now does not work. That is the ideal way to approach it I think, if you have the luxury of doing so. Above all I hope SL will continue and succeed.

- Oshyan
153  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Mint 12 introducing DuckDuckGo ... on: November 27, 2011, 01:47:13 AM
 Roll Eyes

- Oshyan
154  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: In search of ... information/opinions on VHS to DVD converters on: November 27, 2011, 01:45:24 AM
You'll get used to the 55" and eventually be glad you have that instead of something smaller. At least I and everyone I know who has one of similar size did. cheesy

From my experience all TV's Internet access (and additional "fancy" functions) are awfully slow. Another reason not to bother.

Regarding 4:3 and "conversion", just what exactly where you hoping/expecting to have "converted"? You can't change the aspect ratio without distorting the content or losing some of it (chop off the top and bottom). Neither one is desirable. The best "conversion" that I've seen, which works "OK" for *some* things, is to progressively stretch the edges of the video frame the further you get from center. Since your focus is usually on center, this helps keep any distortion to the edges of the frame where you're less likely to see it. Still, it does not look good in many cases. Better, in general, to just ignore the black bars on the sides and treat it as a big (but slightly smaller at that aspect ratio) square TV.

I don't have any specific experience regarding hardware, but 2 thoughts do come to mind:

First, if you want something as easy as possible and have no interest in editing the VHS video contents, or combining multiple VHS into a single DVD, then an all-in-one unit, a straightforward converter, that avoids the computer step might be best.

On the other hand if you may want to edit *or* you don't actually want "VHS to DVD" specifically, but rather "VHS to something I can watch on my new TV", *and* if you have got it working to stream stuff to the TV from your other devices, then using something like Nigel posted and grabbing the VHS content to a computer for streaming might be ideal. That's what I'd do, no need for more DVDs laying around, just build up a nice digital library of old VHS stuff.

- Oshyan
155  DonationCoder.com Software / Coding Snacks / Re: Image Tile Joiner on: November 27, 2011, 01:29:09 AM
Another vote for an "interactive image tiler"! I've just been more or less asking Rob of Sagelight to add something like that one day, but I'm not really sure it's appropriate to that tool. A dedicated app would work for me as I do it infrequently enough that I wouldn't mind switching to something else for the task.

- Oshyan
156  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Wave? Good-bye! on: November 27, 2011, 01:25:18 AM
I played with Wave on a number of occasions and in the context of 2 separate companies, and I never did find a situation where it was *clearly* better than either email, or a collaborative document workspace like GDocs is now (or Zoho was at that time, a bit ahead of GDocs then). I also don't think it really gave Google much useful info that they would have applied to G+, much more likely they applied its lessons to Gdocs and GApps in general. G+ isn't collaborative at all, nor is it anywhere near as persistent, both of which were huge founding principles of Wave.

Anyway, I'm glad Google experimented and let us all share in that experiment, but I'm also glad they have the sense to stop using resources on it when it clearly either wasn't a product that could/should succeed, wasn't ready to succeed, or "the world wasn't ready for it". In either of those 3 cases it is right to "kill" it for now. Fortunately Google is doing it right and open sourcing it, so if the idea is truly good, users can decide that and continue using it.

- Oshyan
157  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Sagelight Editor - $39.95 Lifetime Promotion Ending July 1st on: November 23, 2011, 06:54:43 PM
Good points Dormouse. One perhaps counter-intuitive (but nonetheless effective) change you might consider is being less frequent and detailed with releases and release promises and instead settle on a regular schedule you can stick to within the year. People like updates, but reading through this thread and your blog, you can see that the "It took a lot longer than I thought" comment is frequent and regular. So you'll say "4.2 is coming soon" but then it won't because hey, it took longer than you expected. That's fine, the problem isn't necessarily (or at least solely) with it taking longer than expected but that you externalized that expectation by hinting at or even in some cases announcing it. If you had said nothing and instead just had a general policy of bi-annual updates, and making them major updates (i.e. 4.0 at beginning of the year, 4.5 mid-year, 5.0 at the beginning of next year), that would create that sense of stability while taking some pressure off you.

Heck even annual releases are not necessarily to be expected from a lot of (professional) software. Lightroom gets point releases, but they're mostly bug fixes and support for new camera RAW files. With Version Control you can easily do patch releases while working on separate tracks with major features and merge them later for a big release.

I would not suggest reducing communications overall necessarily, I think your engagement with your users through the blogs, videos, and tutorials is part of the appeal of SL, but you could stick to helping people learn existing tools, creating videos for future features behind the scenes if desired and then releasing those when the version with those features eventually comes out.

Just a thought... All I know for sure is not announcing release dates ahead of time has worked a lot better in my experience. cheesy

- Oshyan
158  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Need Advice on a TV... on: November 23, 2011, 01:10:40 AM
Looks like a pretty good choice. LG makes nice displays.

Just a quick note regarding number of HDMI ports: the best way to handle this in my opinion is actually with your home theater receiver/surround decoder (if you have one - if not, then yes, TV needs lots of HDMI). Modern ones will handle simultaneous switching of audio/video signal, which can otherwise be a pain if you do have a separate amp and surround system (i.e. you're not just relying on the TV's speakers). The receiver is what has all the HDMI inputs and then 1 or more outputs and it handles switching internally, feeding your TV the appropriate video signal over HDMI, without having to switch your TV's own input source (i.e. HDMI 1, 2, etc. on the TV).

- Oshyan
159  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Sagelight Editor - $39.95 Lifetime Promotion Ending July 1st on: November 23, 2011, 12:57:33 AM
As someone whose "other editor" is $300 (Lightroom), I find your pricing considerations and general range to be very, very reasonable! Now granted LR does things that Sagelight does not do, things I wish SL did, and I cannot replace LR with SL right now because of that. Photo organizing, tagging, and uploading are the majority of that, but also things like HDR plugins. At the same time SL can do things that LR doesn't, or at least do things in ways that are easier to control and/or produce better results. The new lens blur/bokeh stuff is a great example.

So while I understand people's comments about "the app world" and whatnot, I also see the other side of things where SL is actually a tremendous deal compared to other *similarly capable* apps. That's the thing though, does SL have a professional reputation and if not, could it develop one? That's what you need to charge more than about $50 I think, or $100 at most. It's little or nothing to do with the actual capabilities which, as I've said, are excellent and already surpass programs that cost much more in some ways.

If I'm being honest, I think the UI design is probably the lest professional-seeming thing about SL. It's hard to put my finger on, but it feels less clean and polished than LR, Bibble, and the like. More colors, gradients, and icons than clear lines and text, perhaps. Beveled edges, that sort of thing. And the general feel and workflow is good, but still somehow just doesn't "feel" as "solid" as LR and others. That may be just my personal, subjective opinion of course.

At any rate I definitely understand the pricing difficulties. I admire your dedication to keeping features accessible, and that's one thing I've dealt with personally at Planetside Software where we make a fully free (with some limitations) version of our software available. I also understand the pro vs. hobbyist vs. amateur debate and the difficulty in establishing the right perceptions of your product, *especially* when you want to keep things accessible to a wide range of users and price points. I suspect that sometimes you do just have to make a sacrifice of one or the other, or take some radical approach like making an entirely different product (at least in name). But I do have some suggestions for a pro vs. "light" split if you're interested. I suspect you might not agree, but I think any decision you make on it is going to involve some compromise in your core desires and values. If that weren't the case I expect you'd have made a decision by now. Wink

By the way, great to hear that HDR functionality (that I recently emailed you about) is planned!

- Oshyan
160  DonationCoder.com Software / MEWLO Web Framework / Re: OLD - Unfinished Web project: YUMPS on: November 23, 2011, 12:23:19 AM
Meanwhile I'm doing my part by supplying mouser with commercial projects to test and improve YUMPS on. cheesy

- Oshyan
161  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Need Advice on a TV... on: November 19, 2011, 04:58:16 PM
The basic competing tech is LCD and Plasma. LED is a back lighting method for LCDs; plasmas don't use backlights as far as I know.

Of those two, LED is more common and has no screen "burn in" issues, plasma is cheaper and has better blacks and hence contrast ratios (due to no backlights), but does burn in if you leave a static image on it too long (or something like a logo in the corner of a TV station screen). Burn in is probably less an issue for newer Plasmas, but still a concern, depending on your usage (e.g. video game playing with a game's HUD). There are much fewer plasmas and the tech tends to be less "advanced" than LCD, in general, as far as fancy features supported, etc. Also I think plasma still tends to use more power. The upside of plasma is basically you can get the same screen size and resolution as an LCD, usually for cheaper, and with potentially better image quality (depending).

Go for some form of Internet capability if you want to, but basing much of your decision on it seems foolish to me as almost all of this tech is limited (not a general "You can do anything a browser can do, but on your TV!). The better solution in my view is to hook up a nice little HTPC and then you truly get all capabilities. Plus, who wants to type URLs on a TV remote? Wink

Now if you're talking about *media streaming* support (DLNA, etc.), that's different, it actually has little or nothing to do with Internet support, per se (except that they're both network-based, of course). And in that case yes it can be useful, unless you have the previously mentioned HTPC. Bottom line is I think getting a "dumb TV" with a "smart computer" attached to it is going to give you way more long-term flexibility and capability than any other option. But if you really don't want to deal with an HTPC, don't want to spend the extra money, don't have space in your AV space, etc. for one, then I guess try to get as much of that stuff built-in as possible. Just keep in mind that the industry is in flux and a lot of stuff that's supported now may not be supported in, say, 5 years, and if you're planning for a 10yr lifetime, well... then again you can always buy an HTPC and add it on to any TV you get. cheesy

The other thing to think about is 3D. I personally dislike almost all 3D media and technologies I've seen so I wouldn't bother and it tends to add to the price anyway. If 3D is important to you, you might want to wait for better tech if at all possible. I would basically suggest not getting 3D (and saving money), and then buy something new in 5yrs for 3D if you really want it.

I know that's not a comprehensive answer to everything you asked, but hopefully it's somewhat useful. smiley

- Oshyan
162  DonationCoder.com Software / Find And Run Robot / Re: FARR and Indexing Option - Feedback Requested on: November 18, 2011, 09:32:14 PM
Strange, my experiences with Windows Search have been consistently awful, ever since Vista and including Win7. Maybe I should give it another try, but it's hard to trust it after blatantly missing files I was clearly and easily able to find with other tools (and simple folder browsing).

Everything is certainly not the only indexer/search option, it's just the best and fastest, in my experience (by far). As for its status, sure it's a good indexer already, so what more needs to be done, right? Well, how about icons/thumbnails for file types, for example? On the developer's list, I know that much, but after a year of no updates, well one starts to wonder if anything more will ever happen. How important is it? Not terribly, I guess, but future OS or file system upgrades may break it, for example. It's a real bummer when you come to rely deeply on a tool - and Everything is exactly the kind of tool that gets deep into your regular computer experience - and then it goes away. Hard to adjust.

- Oshyan
163  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Photo managers with face recognition? on: November 18, 2011, 09:22:22 PM
Yes, basically Lightroom now. I'm *reasonably* happy with it, but still not thrilled. I may go into another period of testing alternatives soon too...

- Oshyan
164  DonationCoder.com Software / Find And Run Robot / Re: FARR and Indexing Option - Feedback Requested on: November 12, 2011, 08:32:49 PM
However... Relying on a 3rd party could mean have an indexing option rapidly with minimal efforts on mouser's part. And if the 3rd party options doen't get updated/don't work after a while (a couple years?), mouser can then develop his own indexing mechanism...

Isn't that exactly what happened with the Everything plugin?

- Oshyan
165  DonationCoder.com Software / Find And Run Robot / Re: FARR and Indexing Option - Feedback Requested on: November 12, 2011, 02:47:56 PM
For some reason I think there is particularly high turnover in the search/indexing market too, perhaps because it was a "hot topic" a few years back so a bunch of seemingly unrelated companies (Yahoo, Google) as well as many individual coders jumped into the fray, and now we're seeing things settle down to just a few providers. Still somehow the best of them (Everything) isn't nearly as well supported as I'd like it to be. Maybe the market for those tools just isn't what I thought it was, but I sure do love Everything - more, I will admit, than FARR, though I love FARR too. I'd almost like Everything-esque functionality in FARAR (and yes I know there are FARR plugins to integrate EV) to get me to use FARR more. cheesy

- Oshyan
166  DonationCoder.com Software / Find And Run Robot / Re: FARR and Indexing Option - Feedback Requested on: November 12, 2011, 02:16:50 PM
Funny, I would have agreed with "don't duplicate effort" a year or two ago, but now that Everything - my favorite instant search app - has been so slow to update for so long, seeming nearly abandoned, and so many other similar apps are being cancelled, abandoned, etc. (Google Desktop, Yahoo Desktop, etc.), I'm actually in favor of having a reliable dev whom I know (mouser) tackle this problem and keep the app updated! With the popularity of Everything, if FARR could match it for speed and features in terms of file search, while also having all its other capabilities, well it'd be a pretty "killer app" and I think such a feature would actually help drive FARR adoption quite a lot. People might start just for the quick file indexing and search, that's the first taste of the drug that is FARR, but over time they could realize how much more it can do and it'd become indispensable. All that is to say that I think a lightning quick full hard drive indexed search tool is more universally appealing than a type-to-launch app like FARR is.

As for Windows Search/Indexing, my god I've never found it to be anything but appallingly slow, inefficient, and just plain incapable of finding my files. I mean shockingly so. This started with Windows Vista (XP's file search wasn't great, but at least it found all files). Vista file searches suddenly weren't turning up files I *knew* were there! Very strange. I had hoped Win7 would fix it but it didn't. So now I just use Everything and XYPlorer (which I won a license for on DC many moons ago!).

- Oshyan
167  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Powerpoint sucks - what to use instead? on: November 11, 2011, 12:33:52 PM
Reviving this one as I just randomly ran across a couple of interesting related projects.

S5 is an HTML, CSS, and Javascript slide show system that appears to be a descendant of Opera's early slide show concept: http://meyerweb.com/eric/tools/s5/

HTML Slidey seems to be in a similar vein and I'm not yet sure what sets it apart from S5: http://www.w3.org/Talks/Tools/Slidy2/#(1)

Slideous is the project that made me aware of the other two so is presumably more advanced, though I'm not entirely sure how yet: http://goessner.net/articles/slideous/

None of these include full-on authoring tools, which would be necessary for my original needs (which actually still exist!), but at least they define a standard way to represent slide shows in HTML and CSS such that perhaps an open source HTML authoring tool could be made to create this stuff...

- Oshyan
168  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: I know I've got a dose of absenteeism... but it's going to get worse on: November 10, 2011, 02:07:16 PM
Wow, the time just flew by for us! Wink Welcome back and glad to hear it was a success! I'm looking forward to seeing your pics and I now see I should go look at all I missed in your logs, hehe.

Edit: Or are your logs posted yet? I know there was the GPS log, but I wasn't following along (shame on me!) and it doesn't seem to be coming up now. Anyway, would love to see any related materials about the trip as I neglected to keep up as you went along. cheesy

- Oshyan
169  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Is "Thank you for your service" enough for veterans? on: November 06, 2011, 01:59:50 AM
I was going to chime in but mouser said it for me. Good work. I support and appreciate those who serve, regardless of my views on any particular conflict or political decision that may put them in harm's way.

That being said, in service you must also uphold moral and ethical behavior as much as possible. I know this is often hard on the battlefield, tough choices have to be made in a split second, and things aren't always clear. Yet there are also plenty of examples where that wasn't the case, but a bad choice was clearly made anyway (Abu Ghraib anyone?). Fortunately the vast majority of people in the military are good people, doing the best they can, and don't want to hurt people unnecessarily. They deserve respect even more because I'm sure it's hard to do what they are asked to do while maintaining the core of their essentially good human nature. Killing someone can never be easy unless you are a psychopath.


- Oshyan
170  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Post Your Funny Videos Here [NSFW] on: November 06, 2011, 01:44:22 AM
Ahhh, the Gregory Brothers strike again! Love these guys (responsible for Autotune the News as well). Here's their Youtube channel with lots more fun: http://www.youtube.com/user/schmoyoho

- Oshyan
171  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: I don't understand relative volume on a PC at all. on: November 01, 2011, 11:41:33 PM
Ah, that would make sense it being a USB model. Does it have any separate volume controls in software, in the audio device settings or anything?

- Oshyan
172  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Steve Jobs is dead. on: October 29, 2011, 08:05:06 PM
Oh Steve...

Honestly I think it's difficult or impossible to get to where he got without basically being a dick and a weirdo. I have no problem with him having been those things, it just irritates me when people ignore the complexities and give and take in him and see only the good (or the bad, for that matter). Anyway, enough has been said on this.

Jobs was not a programmer by the way, you're thinking of Dennis Richie, responsible for the C programming language, and the following week John McCarthy, "father" of AI and Lisp. Both died recently, both arguably as influential as Jobs (in other, less visible ways), neither garnered 1/100th the media attention.

But I mostly just wanted to say hooray for James Burke. cheesy

- Oshyan
173  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Photo managers with face recognition? on: October 29, 2011, 07:12:57 PM
Thanks for the reply Iain. I agree that Picasa has progressed since my original post, but honestly not as much as I would hope in the face recognition dept. Worse yet, other packages haven't really stepped up to the plate either, so the options are not much different now than they were, unfortunately. In response to your specific points:

While Picasa does rescans on its own (you can set whether you want it to do so on a per-folder basis), it still seems to miss a lot of faces for some reason. This happens even if you force a rescan. It is mysterious. This answers point 2 as well. Maybe my experience is different than yours. My environment is probably atypical for a Picasa user: I work mostly with RAW files and I have over 50,000. So admittedly it's a tall task to ask Picasa to deal with all that with face recognition. But that's what I must ask, or ask for a similar app at a professional level that *can* handle that. There should be *some* solution for this.

To point 3, the idea of tagging multi-selected people to create "groups" is interesting, but it's really a relatively limited workaround that doesn't actually accomplish the goal of persistent grouping. As you said, you can't have it auto-tag new photos with a recognized face, so it's not persistent and requires continuous, laborious maintenance. Not only that but one possible benefit of having categories would be to e.g. collapse categories to reduce visual clutter and allow me to concentrate on the groups of people I am more interested in maintaining records of. A solution using the existing tagging system doesn't allow that.

Regarding meta data, there are a couple standards for it and have been for some time. Picasa supports several of them, but each to varying degrees, and long-standing bugs have caused corruption and unreadable data for other apps (e.g. Lightroom). A quick search will turn up lots of threads spanning the last several years describing these issues. The real problem I guess is Picasa doesn't necessarily play nice with other apps. I wouldn't really care to use Picasa at all and would just focus on other apps *if* other apps offered good face recognition.

As to Picasa's limited editing capability, I probably shouldn't have even made the Lightroom comparison. A better one might be Photoshop Elements, or even Paint.net. Being more specific, there are really just a *few* tools that should be added and/or tweaked to make Picasa much more capable, in my opinion. But the flip side of my point - and the real desire for me - was for a higher-end app like Lightroom to support some of the cool capabilities of Picasa, particularly good face recognition. That's the real disappointment for me. As I said above I basically only use Picasa for the face recognition stuff. All my editing is done in other apps, mostly Lightroom and Photoshop. I would be *happy* if I didn't have to jump over to Picasa for face stuff. So really it's the other software publishers lagging that I'm most frustrated with. Lack of competition not driving progress and all that. Hopefully Lightroom 4 will come out soon with native face recognition and HDR tone mapping. cheesy

- Oshyan
174  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Do You Freelance? on: October 29, 2011, 05:27:54 PM
I used to. Still take the occasional one-off, but really just as favors. I donate more of my computer "consulting" time than anything. I might get back into it in a couple years if my current projects don't pan out though. cheesy

- Oshyan
175  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: I don't understand relative volume on a PC at all. on: October 29, 2011, 04:55:39 PM
Deo, your headset is USB, it's not terribly surprising (to me) that the volume controls don't work the same or quite right. It probably even has its own separate volume control as a separate audio device. That being said, doesn't it have in-line (on cord) controls?

Audio volume settings can indeed be quite confusing as there are many things that affect them. With Windows 7's new per-app volume control, you now have more flexibility but also potentially more confusion with volume. I'll try to break down how all this works, maybe it will help you understand, if not solve, these issues.

First, a quick run down of the major factors that could come into play:

  • Original recorded audio volume
  • Effects applied during playback (e.g. compression, normalization)
  • Individual *in-app* audio levels
  • Codec-specific audio levels and effects (e.g. AC3 decoder)
  • Sound driver levels and effects
  • Individual *Windows* audio levels (Win 7 only)
  • Main Windows volume
  • Volume of the output device (speakers, headphones)

I think the first step is to determine if there actually is a real difference *when playing the same audio file*. So maybe take an MP3, play it locally in your audio player of choice, then upload it to e.g. Amazon Music, Google Music, etc. and play it back through the browser. Is the volume different? If so, then you check all the various volume settings described above to make sure they're the same, and only then can you really be sure that somehow the browser is treating audio differently. My guess is that one of the above factors is involved.

If you care to dig deeper, read on....

Recorded sound is complicated in general. Here's a good reference from Audacity's documentation. And More info from Wikipedia. Now the reason I'm starting at such a basic level is that it's important to realize sound is not an absolute, especially recorded sound. A recording is encoding differing pressures detected by a measurement device (microphone usually) that itself has limitations on the amount of pressure it can actually detect before it breaks or faults. So basically a recorded sound ends up being from 0 (silence) to the maximum sound pressure level the recording device can handle, and that can be encoded in digital recording as say a floating point value from 0 to 1, with 1 being the maximum volume. It's not nearly as simple as that in actuality because frequency is also encoded, but we're considering volume alone here for the moment.

With that out of the way let's consider the computer-specific elements. Start with the base audio file/stream itself. The recorded range in the audio file mentioned above (0-1) is translated into actual sound by the output device - speakers, headphones - which essentially moderates the ultimate sound volume, but the absolute volume of the source still has a big effect and can have a huge impact on the relative "loudness". This is why for example TV commercials tend to be louder than TV shows, even though you're not changing the volume of your TV speakers.

So if you were to take a look at the wave form of an audio file, a normal audio segment might look something like this:

There are two wave forms because this is a stereo track (left/right). Note the scale on the left (ignore the lines across) and how there is both positive and negative measurement from a baseline of 0. Now, you can see that the audio here seldom - if ever - reaches the maximum on the scale, and likewise it's seldom at 0 either. Now imagine what happens if you amplify the recorded values in this audio file. You might get something more like:

Notice there are still some dynamics - variable highs and lows - but the overall wave form is "taller", getting closer to the max/min more of the time.

Now, here's where it hopefully starts getting interesting. A lot of audio and video players have "normalize" options which are set to on by default in some cases. Likewise a lot of audio content *sources* are normalized before they get to you. Normalizing essentially takes an audio file and adjusts the amplitude (volume) such that the maximum and minimum are within a certain range. Note that normalizing shouldn't change the *dynamics* of the audio, just its relative volume. This can make a quieter recording into one with more normal volume.

Another process that is sometimes applied dynamically in audio/video players, and even more often applied in audio processing for music and other things, is Dynamic Range Compression, and this is really where you'll hear some big changes. The intention of audio compression is to bring all the sound levels to a similar amplitude, giving you much more even volume through the recording, and removing a lot of the "dynamics". Unlike the previous wave forms with clear highs and lows, a compressed file might look something more like this:

Now compression usually removes both significant highs and significant lows, but depending on the setting it's not going to result in *louder* maximum audio levels, just more even volume. If you compress and normalize to max volume, *then* you end up with something that is uniformly loud, and about as loud as can be encoded in an audio file. Something more like this:

As I said, these are effects that are often applied to audio, both music and TV, as well as elsewhere. Now are these factors in a browser-vs-desktop-player volume difference? Obviously not if you are playing the same audio. However it's important to be aware that certain audio sources *do* have normalization and/or compression applied as a general rule. As I mentioned your audio player may also have one of these effects enabled (KMPlayer for example tends to have Normalize enabled by default for some audio types).

When you take those complexities into account, along with the original list of possible factors, you can see how complicated it can be to really figure out what the output level will be for even a specific audio file, let alone "audio in general". Since you've probably checked all the basic stuff like system volume vs. app-specific volume, I'd dig deeper into stuff like audio codec effects and whatnot. But first, as I said at the beginning, you'd want to verify that there is indeed a difference using the same exact files. If you're talking about something more like playing back a movie (encoded with e.g. AC3 or DTS audio) on your computer is quieter than playing, say, a Youtube video, well that's not at all surprising. AC3 and DTS decoders will tend to produce much quieter output and are generally intended to be fed into a multi-channel amplifier. When that output just goes through stereo speakers, it loses a lot in the translation, so to speak.

In short, it's important to know the specifics of what you're comparing and to make sure you're comparing apples to apples.

- Oshyan
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