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European Commission to rule on Apple's Beats acquisition by July 30 - Page 2

post #41 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by BobSchlob View Post
 

Well, except that it's not a "large merger". Just an expensive one (by Apple standards). Beats was a private (or non-public) company.

And I wasn't saying it was strange that AI published the story, just surprising to me that this particular deal has come under EC scrutiny to such an extent, that all media outlets are running with it as a story.

 

My second point was just that companies merge every day, (and larger than Beats) and I don't hear {quite} so much about it from SEC - EC.

Also: If the EC review is not pertinent to "anti-competitive practices", what would it be about?

 

I guess I'm just saying that I saw the Beats deal as having very little overlay (yes, some). And therefore am surprised at the scrutiny.

In the end, it seems like it's probably about the price tag more than anything. (shrug)

It is a large merger based on the dollar amount (i.e., it's expensive). Also, Beats itself deals with some fairly narrow industries (headphones, earphones, streaming music). Even if the industry itself isn't massive (like oil & gas), it's impactful because of the players and how them might affect those narrow segments.

 

The EC scrutinizes many mergers, only a few of them get picked up by the media to this degree of Apple-Beats. That's because it's Apple, the world's largest company by market capitalization, and Apple media coverage generates page views. Remember that Apple is an S&P 500 component, a NASDAQ 100 component, and arguably should be a Dow 30 component because of its size. I don't know why anyone here should be surprised about the amount of media coverage. 

 

Also, the EC needs to scrutinize mergers even when there aren't obvious issues. That's the whole point of the investigation: due diligence. You don't just investigate these companies only where there are blatant issues, you monitor these mergers to see if there's something that isn't blatant. Remember, the EC investigators aren't likely Apple fanbois or rumor site readers. They do their job whether it's GE trying to acquire Alstom, Apple-Beats, Microsoft-Nokia, et cetera. Joe Consumer doesn't hear about the GE-Alstom deal because it's not particularly "sexy" from a consumer standpoint.

 

Note that the aforementioned GE-Alstom deal is quite a bit larger than the Apple-Beats deal. The Microsoft-Nokia deal ended up at EUR 5.44 billion in cash. The $13.5B GE-Altsom deal is big news, but only on business news sites -- not mainstream consumer/general news sites -- because the energy generation industry is staid and "unsexy" for Joe Consumer. 


Edited by mpantone - 6/25/14 at 5:33pm
post #42 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post
 

Amplifiers don't come with EQ, but preamplifiers (except for phono preamps) and receivers (which combine a preamp with a power amp) do come with EQ (or tone controls).   That's because EQ is supposed to be part of the control section of an audio chain.   Phono preamps have a set de-emphasis built-in according to the RIAA phono curve.     

 

You are never listening to the music exactly as intended because you are not listening in the same room and with the same equipment as the recording.    The primary purpose of EQ is not to change the sound of the recording - it's to change and balance the sound of the room.

 

In addition, recorded music will sound different depending upon the level that it's played.   At lower levels, we tend to hear less low and high end.   That's why stereo equipment (as opposed to multichannel A/V equipment) used to have a "loudness compensation" switch which increased the low and high end at low levels.  As you increased the level, the compensation would phase out.    These were established according to the Fletcher-Munson curve, which detailed how the ear responds to various frequencies at various levels.    

 

And even in addition to all that, it's simply a matter of personal taste.   If someone wants to hear a little more bass and uses EQ (or simple tone controls) to do that, there's nothing wrong with that as long as only slight adjustments are made.    Same for the high end, especially if you have some hearing loss as the vast majority of middle-aged and above urban dwellers have.   Kids can generally hear to 20Khz or even slightly higher.    Most older adults can't hear much above 13-15Khz and may have threshold loss at even lower frequencies.   EQ can help compensate for threshold loss.   

 

However, if EQ is overused or used improperly, it can result in some phasing problems. 

 

So frankly, I think it's a bit "anal" to say that one is never going to use EQ as a matter of principle.   And if you listen to music on an A/V receiver or controller, almost all of them have room calibration setups (such as Audyssey) that include an automatic EQ (for better or worse) to compensate for the effects of the room.   

Curiously, I have a USB DAC amplifier and it has no equalizer nor tone controls.

 

Also, recording engineers aren't kids, they have the same hearing ranges as adults.

 

Moreover, many of them use headphones during the recording and mastering process. This pretty much indicates that an end user should be able to plug a pair of "good" headphones into a reliable source (like a CD or lossless rip) and get a similar listening experience as to what the mastering engineer heard.

 

I understand that EQ can be used to tailor audio to fit personal tastes or a room's acoustics, but the point is that good headphones should be neutral enough to provide a close enough approximation of what the mastering engineer reviewed on his/her headphones.

post #43 of 49

Serious OOPS in the article.

 

The deadline is July 30. Next Monday is June 30.

 

The Commission will decide by the end of NEXT month, not THIS month (this month being "June").

post #44 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by mpantone View Post
 

Curiously, I have a USB DAC amplifier and it has no equalizer nor tone controls.

 

Also, recording engineers aren't kids, they have the same hearing ranges as adults.

 

Moreover, many of them use headphones during the recording and mastering process. This pretty much indicates that an end user should be able to plug a pair of "good" headphones into a reliable source (like a CD or lossless rip) and get a similar listening experience as to what the mastering engineer heard.

 

I understand that EQ can be used to tailor audio to fit personal tastes or a room's acoustics, but the point is that good headphones should be neutral enough to provide a close enough approximation of what the mastering engineer reviewed on his/her headphones.

Actually, recording engineers (and musicians) have WORSE hearing on average, especially if they've also done live sound mixing as they've damaged their hearing over the years due to monitoring at high sound levels.   I know few musicians who don't have tinnitus.   This is actually one of the reasons so many recordings sound bad as they boost frequencies they can't hear.

 

I'm an ex-recording engineer and I never used headphones in the studio, unlike live radio where we did.    

 

But go to some retailer where they have a demonstration area for headphones where they're all fed the same audio.   Every different brand and usually each different model of headphones sounds different.    There is no consistency whatsoever, even among so-called "pro" headphones.  And the reason for that is that most people do not like what would actually be considered a "flat" sound and because if all headphones were truly flat and therefore sounded the same, no maker would have a competitive advantage except on style and price.      And frankly, the same is true for studio monitors, which are supposed to be "flat".   They each sound different and when an engineer moves from one studio to another, you have to spend a lot of time getting used to the sound of the new room.     This is why I've always preferred mixing in one studio.   

post #45 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pazuzu View Post

"Premium"?
Overpriced junk.

Maybe, but what headphones that you would use are not overpriced and/or junk?

 

While I don't use Beats headphones because I personally don't like the way they sound, they seem to be decently designed and constructed.   I do like the sound of my relatively low-cost Sennheisers, but the cables on these never last more than a year or two and I find them impossible to re-solder onto a new plug because there are so few strands of copper.  

 

Just get bluetooth ones.

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post #46 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post
 

Actually, recording engineers (and musicians) have WORSE hearing on average, especially if they've also done live sound mixing as they've damaged their hearing over the years due to monitoring at high sound levels.   I know few musicians who don't have tinnitus.   This is actually one of the reasons so many recordings sound bad as they boost frequencies they can't hear.

 

I'm an ex-recording engineer and I never used headphones in the studio, unlike live radio where we did.    

 

But go to some retailer where they have a demonstration area for headphones where they're all fed the same audio.   Every different brand and usually each different model of headphones sounds different.    There is no consistency whatsoever, even among so-called "pro" headphones.  And the reason for that is that most people do not like what would actually be considered a "flat" sound and because if all headphones were truly flat and therefore sounded the same, no maker would have a competitive advantage except on style and price.      And frankly, the same is true for studio monitors, which are supposed to be "flat".   They each sound different and when an engineer moves from one studio to another, you have to spend a lot of time getting used to the sound of the new room.     This is why I've always preferred mixing in one studio.   

Curious.

 

When I'm trying to determine the acoustic quality of a given piece of audio equipment, I use solo classical piano, baroque instrumental music, or a cappella choral music. Why? I know how this music sounds live and it's typically unamplified. Heck, I played piano, I know what one sounds like because I've sat in front of the keyboard myself.

 

Play the Aria from Bach's Goldberg Variations. I've played it, I've heard it played by a master. I know the sound. Now give me headphones or speakers. If it doesn't sound much like that, well, there's something seriously wrong.

 

I understand that hearing loss is a bigger problem for classical musicians, partly because their careers tend to be much longer than those of pop musicians. Oddly enough, classical recordings have better sonic fidelity than pop recordings, and live classical performances have better acoustic balance than pop performances.

 

I suppose my question is: what the hell is wrong with pop/rock/rap/country music recording/mixing engineers?

 

Let's say I find a pair of headphones that reproduce that Bach Goldberg Variation pretty accurately and I put the 'cans on to listen to a rock recording and it sounds terrible. Who should I blame? The headphone manufacturer or the mixing engineer for the rock recording? Is the sound of a pop/contemporary music recording just a confection of some mixing engineer, unrelated to real life?


Edited by mpantone - 6/26/14 at 7:39pm
post #47 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by mpantone View Post
 

 

I suppose my question is: what the hell is wrong with pop/rock/rap/country music recording/mixing engineers?

 

Let's say I find a pair of headphones that reproduce that Bach Goldberg Variation pretty accurately and I put the 'cans on to listen to a rock recording and it sounds terrible. Who should I blame? The headphone manufacturer or the mixing engineer for the rock recording? Is the sound of a pop/contemporary music recording just a confection of some mixing engineer, unrelated to real life?

 

Most studio recordings, especially rock, do have little to do with real life, but that's intentional and there's nothing wrong with that.  Art can be made in the studio with electronic devices and use sounds that are different than what you'd hear with either acoustic instruments or "vanilla" electric instruments.   The Beatles stopped touring after 1966 because they were afraid of the crowds and because they were tired of playing for screaming girls who couldn't hear the music but also because their studio creations had gotten so sophisticated that they could no longer reproduce that music live anyway (even though tribute bands can do it today.)

 

But I do think there is a problem with many (certainly not all) of todays mixing engineers and producers, whether in the studio or for live concerts.   And that is that we have a generation of engineers and producers who have grown up listening to terrible sounding recordings.   And so they copy the sounds on those recordings either because it's all they know or because it represents a formula that could lead to a hit.     And a lot of that sound is made possible (or caused) by the differences between the nature of digital and analog technologies.    And, for several decades now, it's been felt that the only way to get a record noticed is to have it sound louder than everyone else's records the same way that radio stations try to sound louder than every other radio station.  So, in both cases, extreme amounts of level compression takes place and dynamic range is reduced.    And that's actually true for many classical recordings as well, otherwise you find yourself raising the volume during low passages and decreasing it during crescendos.   And so even the few remaining classical music stations use level compression and much more than they did back in the 1950s-1970s.    

 

There's always been this mantra that a fairly flat EQ is appropriate for classical recordings and a non-flat EQ, usually lows and highs boosted, is more appropriate for pop recordings, especially R&B.    Even Apple's EQ settings work that way.    But I've never believed that.   In a full orchestra, you have the deep lows of kettle drums and plucked cellos as well as the high frequency harmonics of violas and the ping of a triangle just as in a rock recording you have the kick drum and bass guitar and the high frequency harmonics of lead guitar, cymbals and high vocals.    IMO, in both types of music, you want resonant deep lows, tight bass, smooth midrange and sweet highs and you want a lot of definition.     Therefore, IMO, there's no reason why one set of headphones can't sound great for both classical and pop music - actually, any genre of music.   

post #48 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by leavingthebigG View Post

Talk about sloppy reporting! Reuters announced July 30, 2014 not June 30, 2014. Come on AI, pull it together!!

Talk about not being afraid to apologize! AI, I apologize for accusing you:rolleyes: of sloppy reporting. You were correct about the approval date timeframe.
post #49 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Don't see why/how approval of this could remotely be an issue.

Nor do I. But that hasn't stopped EU from similar actions in the past.

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