Sunday, November 26, 2006

Silly FAQs / Shure Earphones

I'm doing some research on the Core 2 Duo system that I'll be building. So far I've completed research on the motherboard/processor, and am still left with the graphics card, hard drive, memory, monitor, sound card and chassis. Before getting the sound card, I'm also considering buying a Shure microphone in the future, and so needed to know more about the configuration and sound card needed to make this happen. Shure has a great resource for that: their Frequently Asked Questions section. It's probably the most readable and enjoyable FAQ I've yet come across. It just feels like there's a straight-talking human answering the questions, and not some manager from the PR department. I periodically go there to read, just for fun. Consider this question, which was answered.
Should we bang on mic to see if it's on? Please settle a matter for us. We need a professional opinion. We have Shure SM58 microphones at our church for our praise team to use. Is it ever ok, when checking sound, to bang on a mic to see if it’s on. If not on these models, on any mics?
Mind you, this question is from the professional products FAQ section, and not the consumer section. Now, if you work in the FAQ department, how would you answer this question from a customer who is supposed to be a sound professional? I'd probably go like this: Are you nuts?! What kind of ridiculous question is that? Do you bang on your mobile phone to see if it's working? Would you kick your computer if it crashes? You do know that banging the mic voids the warranty. So sure, go ahead, make my day. Bang it to see if it's on. You think I care? Of course not, for you'll be getting a new Shure soon enough. I like that idea, a lot. Well, the official answer, typed with a straight face, is:
No, you should not. It will not hurt the microphone, but you stand a chance of damaging your loudspeakers. Instead, try snapping your fingers in front of the mic.
I love it when silly questions are answered by nice people. Someone said the only stupid question is the one not asked. Why is it, then, that people don't like to ask silly questions? The first reason is that they are afraid that they would be scolded (or get some form of disapproval from peers). Problem is, this starts the vicious cycle. A person who wants to ask a silly question obviously doesn't know the answer. And if the person doesn't know the answer to a simple question, it means that the more difficult questions remain unasked and unanswered. In school, teachers sometimes don't like students to ask too many questions. I think the objection is towards students who ask frivolous questions, and not serious, 'value-add' ones. But this judgement might be problematic, for what teachers see as frivolous, students might view them as quite serious. (I think the microphone question is quite a serious one, actually.) Then again, which teacher like to see their lesson plans getting waylaid by runaway questions? Maybe only a few... In online communities, there seems to be this dislike for folks who ask simple, nOOby questions. The usual response would be 'go read the FAQ', or 'go Google it'. I think that if I can take a few seconds type the answer, I'd do it, rather than say go look for it somewhere else. It just doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but many people still enjoy saying 'go RTFM'. The time one takes to reply with that unhelpful response can be used to give the correct answers. Anyway, since I'm talking about Shure, might as well help them advertise a bit. After i got my iPod, I thought that I should a more expensive pair of earphones since the iPod isn't that cheap to begin with. I'm not sure of the correctness of that argument, but I do know that the earphones are so good, it actually provides more than good music. It actually buys you peace of mind. These are the E2c Sound Isolating Earphones. You need to stick them into your ear canals, and they become like earplugs. If I wear them, and you stand in front of me, I can't hear what you're saying to me. It's quite incredible how you feel you're able to instantly disappear amongst the crowd when you put on one of these. I guess Sony intended to achieve that when they invented the Walkman, and I think the illusion is complete with ear isolating earphones. The other benefit is that you can save your hearing because you don't need to switch on the music too loud to be able to hear the music. I can turn down the volume of the iPod to the lowest setting, and still be able to hear the music on a quiet night. The sound quality is great, though it's quite expensive around S$155. For the peace it provides, I guess the price is worth it...


Molly Meek said...

Oooh! Do the earphones block out noise so well that you can't hear the TVMobile as well? That's my dream earphone.

Anonymous said...

my earholes are too small for them shures and i always get damn pissed off when my friend asks me to listen to her ipod.


jeffyen said...

amy, the Shures come bundled with 9 different pairs of the removable rubber thingies, small, medium, large, and three different kinds of materials. So even if you can't use the ones your friend has selected for her ear size, I'm quite sure one of the 9 pairs would fit yours.

Molly the Meek, now that you mention this, I guess the TVmobile will become mumble mumble. I'm quite sure but I need to confirm it... haha, that alone is worth the price of admission for many, I reckon!

DK said...

Wah... lich fellow. lol. :P