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Archive for February, 2008

Blu-Ray Format Triumphs

Blu-Ray logo

When it comes to technology format wars, the best doesn’t always win out. Many other factors (generally of the economic variety) dictate which format comes out on top in a particular field. The classic example is VHS’s triumph over the technologically superior Betamax format at the dawn of the home-video era.

So, it was a pleasant surprise to read news stories yesterday about the triumph of the Blu-Ray disc format over its technologically inferior rival, HD-DVD (single layer Blu-Ray discs hold 25 GB to HD-DVD’s 15 GB). Toshiba, which was the company behind HD-DVD, capitulated on Tuesday, announcing that it was suspending development of the format, which was losing its attempts to become the disc of choice for high-definition DVD movies. The nails in the coffin of HD-DVD were recent announcements that movie retailers like, Blockbuster, Netflix, and Wal-Mart were all going exclusively with Blu-Ray.

So why am I writing about it in this blog? After all, EM is concerned with recording gear not consumer electronics. The answer is that now that the format war has ended, we can expect to see lower priced Blu-Ray disc drives for computers, allowing data-hungry recordists to store and backup large projects to disc that in the past exceeded the capacity of conventional DVD drives. Imagine being able to archive up to 25 GB at a time (double that on double-layer drives). I presume that prices will come down for both the drives and the discs. Now we can buy Blu-Ray gear without the fear of the format dying after we’ve invested in hardware—at least not until the next best thing comes along.

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Related Topics: Emusician, Mike Levine |

Blue Highway at Joe’s Pub

Blue Highway

Last night I saw the bluegrass group Blue Highway at Joe’s Pub in NYC. It was an awesome show. The band blends traditional and modern bluegrass influences, and features a lineup packed with really amazing musicians.

Blue Highway is touring in support of their new album, Through the Window of a Train (Rounder, 2008). Mixing material from the new CD, some older songs (the band has seven other albums), as well as a couple of traditional tunes, the set was eclectic and highly energized, and the band received three encores from a very enthusiastic audience. Blue Highway really showed their range, as they played everything from breakneck-speed instrumentals to uptempo and medium tempo vocal tunes (with excellent instrumental solos), to ballads and beautifully sung a cappella gospel tunes.

Blue Highway’s lineup includes all-world dobro player Rob Ickes, mandolinist/fiddler and superb vocalist Shawn Lane, virtuostic banjo player Jason Burleson, flashy flatpicker and vocalist Tim Stafford, and solid bassist/vocalist (and frontman) Wayne Taylor. These guys have been playing together for a long time, and you could tell. They really know how to play as an ensemble.

The band got an excellent live sound using mainly individual mics on their instruments (Stafford combined a pickup and a mic on his flattop, and Taylor had an upright with a pickup). Ickes got a great sound from his dobro through an AKG C1000 with the hypercardioid capsule in it. He says he’s been using that mic for years and has found that it works really well for him onstage.

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Related Topics: Emusician, Mike Levine |


The Bus, EM's editorial blog, features posts from all the EM editors on topics related to gear, recording techniques and much more. It's also home to posts from a selected group of guest bloggers.


February 2008
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