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New-to-me Revels: need room and amplifier-wiring advice

rdenney

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I just bought a used set of Concerta F12's. Two categories of questions emerge: Room arrangement and amplifier arrangement. If you want to look at the amp question first, it's way at the bottom.

ROOM:

My current system is grossly suboptimal, and was unchangeable for a lot of reasons. But these new towers certainly aren't going to go where my Advents are currently resting, so stuff's gonna hafta change anyway. Here's an (old--electronics have changed) picture looking towards the stereo cabinet, showing the sloped ceiling and the current Advents.

IMG_5077-dsqz.JPG


As you may surmise, the listening chair is the camera location, and the tuba practice area is in front of the stereo cabinet. I'm thinking about flipping this around. so that the new speakers will be to my left and the listening position will be to the right of the picture. Here's a plan view of my proposed arrangement (these sketches are accurately scaled, new speakers are shown in red):

listening-room-plan.JPG

The picture looks at the top of those stairs from what is shown as the tuba practice chair next to the piano.

The towers would be 7ish feet apart (could easily be 6 and still fit), and 7-8 feet from the listeners, and still have some adjustment room away from the wall behind the speakers. The black blobs are tubas in gig bags (there are more under the piano). The black rectangles at upper left are the stereo cabinets that you see in the picture. Yes, I know it's a problem for the listening chair to back against a wall, though that wall is only a partial wall next to a staircase.

The vertical situation is key to understanding this space. In the plan view, it looks constrained, but the ceiling slopes up from the window bank at the bottom to a peak above a second-floor loft. Here's a section view to show that:

listening-room-section.JPG


This is obviously a difficult space in some ways. This is the only room available for serious listening, even though it's not a good spot simply because of how it opens into the rest of the house. But when I listen, my wife retreats to the bedroom instead of watching television in the large adjacent room. Even though the distances in the listening area are modest, the room opens into quite a large volume, but with few places to create resonant modes. The only strong resonant mode is between the far wall in the section (against which the Advents were placed) and the opposite wall. At 20 feet, this resonates in the upper 50's. and you can see that in the waterfall below (made using the Advents). But it does not ring that severely at all. I'm just a beginner with REW, of course, though I do have a calibrated microphone piped through a PreSonus interface that I nulled using a loopback test. The mic was in the old listening position, but ringing bass room modes do not appear to my ears as I move around, and I'm rather practiced at hearing those frequencies.

The advantage to the sloped ceiling is that I don't think I'll have much of a problem with early reflections from the ceiling. The mirror point is directly above the back edge of the proposed speaker location. The floor is carpeted with an area rug on top of the carpet. This has been a good room for tuba practice, and practicing tuba with a flat 8-foot ceiling is...unpleasant.

Maybe there is an issue with asymmetry with the side walls. Obviously, I'm closer to the listener's right wall than to the left wall. But I don't think that will be that much of an issue, either. A chunk of the first reflection from the right wall is actually an opening, and at listening height, the left wall is covered by a grand piano, and the only reflection surface there is the short section of the piano's bent side. I can park a tuba at that spot to act as a diffuser.

The biggest issue will be with the partial wall behind the listening chair. That may be the one place where I can add some treatment, though it will not receive spousal approval if it covers the stair railing (which it wouldn't need to do anyway).

rew waterfall 11-20.JPG


Before I disrupt the house, am I on the right track? Validation is what I seek.

(Relocating the piano is not an option.)

AMPLIFIERS:

I am currently powering two pairs of Advents using two B&K Reference 125.2 amplifiers. The amps are rated at 185 wpc into 4 ohms, and claim to be able to supply 30 amps peak-peak. I am able to run the Advents to music peaks (trumpet playing) of, say, 105-108 dB SPL, C-weighted. This is a use case for me, for when I play tuba with recordings. (If I do that, I will move my practice chair out into the middle of the room with the new arrangement). Loud listening for me, though is like it is for everyone else: In the low 90's. One reason I was attracted to these speakers is that everything I read suggests playing music at 108 dB SPL won't be a problem for them.

I like the notion of big amps loafing along, and I recognize that the F12's will probably get very loud with just one amp running in stereo. But I have two, so there are options.

Revel offers two bi-amping strategies, which they call "vertical" and "horizontal". In vertical biamping, one uses Amp A for the right speaker, and Amp B for the left speaker. The right channel of Amp A is wired to the mid/tweeter speaker terminal, and the left channel of Amp A is wired to the woofers. Amp B is wired similarly to the left speaker. They warn that both amps must be identical, which these are. They do not suggest any need for external crossovers, so I gather that the filtering for each driver is appropriately wired to stay in the circuit even in this arrangement. This is a way to use a stereo amp that has no bridging capability in a dual-mono configuration.

The horizontal arrangement is the more conventional bi-amping arrangement that I've always read about. Amp A drives right and left speaker woofers, and Amp B drives right and left speaker mids and tweeters. They require that both amps have the same gain structure for this to work, which these, of course, do.

So, which might be better? Separating the amps between left and right, or separating the amps between frequency band? Or will it not matter?

I do not use computer-based DSP--I frequently listen to analog sources or to the analog outputs of CD players. I do, though, have two very good 20-bit digital parametric equalizers from Yamaha's 90's-era commercial line. I'm currently running one in the processor loop of my Adcom preamp.

In any case, each speaker will be driven by two amp channels rated at 125 watts into 8 ohms, and 185 into 4 ohms. That exceeds the rating of the speaker (200 watts, though they don't say if that's the 8-ohm rated power or the actual power at the nominally 6-ohm speaker), but I don't have children and I know how to behave myself. I think the volume would become unlistenably loud before reaching the danger point.

Advice welcome!

Rick "thank you" Denney
 
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rdenney

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In the hopes of encouraging some responses, I thought I would link some testing done on the Concerta F12's (which have not been tested by Amir, and which look to me quite different than the successor F36 models).

The Soundstage site shows the Canadian NRC test results: https://www.soundstagenetwork.com/measurements/revel_concerta_f12/

I don't want to violate anything by reposting their results in full, but in reviewing those results for those and the many other speakers they have tested, I don't find many faults. I see a slight dip (2ish dB) in the on-axis response between 1KHz and 2KHz. Even at 10 KHz, the response dropped by less than 10 dB even 60 degrees off-axis. The "listening window" response was very flat in the anechoic chamber, save for that slight dip centered on 1.5 KHz. The response has the same basic shape with not very much tilt at early-reflection angles, so I'm expecting a bit of downward spectral tilt in the room, as generally expected, to show the mix of early reflections and on-axis response. I conclude from these measurements that the F12's should be very forgiving in the room. I will invoke fair use and post one test of the high-off-axis angles--45, 60 and 75 degrees! (The Stereophile test below is pretty close to what they got on axis).

frequency_456075.gif


In terms of dynamics, the NRC testing included some interesting additional measurements. Here's how they described it:

PLEASE NOTE: Our standard is to provide the THD+N measurement at 90dB with a measuring distance of 2 meters (within the anechoic chamber). Since this speaker produced very low distortion levels under those conditions, we have added a second measurement performed at 95dB to give an indication of performance under higher-output conditions. In addition, we have also provide an additional Deviation from Linearity measurement at 100dB based on the good performance at 95dB.

Note that the SPL is at 2 meters in the anechoic chamber. At 1 meter (the usual sensitivity measurement point), the SPL should be 6 dB higher. Thus, when they test linearity at 100 dB SPL, the speaker is actually putting out 106 dB at one meter--15 dB above its 1-watt sensitivity (which measurements have also confirmed), they they would have been driving the speakers at around 32 watts in that test. The measured departure from linearity at 2 meters was better at 100 dB SPL than for many of the speakers they tested at 90 dB SPL. I gather from this that I can drive these speakers to reference volumes (peaks at 108 dB is my definition of that) without much dynamic compression or distortion--that's with acoustic music that has good dynamics, not with stuff that is highly compressed that will be unbearably loud at lower SPL. These are the only speakers below vastly expensive in their test library that showed such linearity at these high levels. This capabillity was the reason I sought these speakers--they seemed likely to fulfill the same requirements as I met with my stacked Advents driven by two amps, but with better spectral characteristics than the Advents.

Stereophile also tested these speakers, to accompany the enthusiastic review from our friend Kal Rubinson: https://www.stereophile.com/floorloudspeakers/706revel/index.html

706R12fig3.jpg

In John Atkinson's test, which measures the anechoic response, he also showed the slight dip centered on 1.5 KHz. Because that dip is consistent across all directions (as shown in the NRC tests), and based on Floyd Toole's principles, it can be corrected by equalization. I'll add a slight boost with lowish Q centered on 1500 Hz just to see how that does. Above the bass region, that's the only change I'd be tempted to make.

John's further testing suggests wide directivity, a good step response, and the advice to use an amp with a high-current capability.

The impedance dips down to 5 ohms at 90 Hz, but at a high phase angle, and to 3.8 ohms (though at a lower phase angle) at 2.5 KHz. My B&K amps are a high-current design, but the B&K Mosfet-based design is not known for its love of very low impedance. This was the reason I used two for stacked Advents, to keep from dropping the impedance too low (parallel-stacked Advents get down to 2.6 ohms). But using both amps for these speakers in the ways Revel offers (as described in my first post) may keep the amps well below their maximum output at my desired maximum listening levels, and I'm not worried. I am still hoping someone will have an informed or educated opinion about the difference between what Revel calls vertical and horizontal bi-amping. My temptation is to go with vertical, notwithstanding that it will load the two channels of each amp very differently.

706R12FIG1.jpg


Finally, John's testing indicated that the port tuning was very low--in the low 30's. It seems to me that speakers start to show lots of distortion below the port tuning frequency. The ports on my little cheapie Pioneers is about 70-75 Hz, and they just don't do much below that (not unexpected given the 4" drivers). The 50 Hz damping factor of the B&K amps is 180, and in this low-bass region the F12's show higher impedance, so I'm not expecting boominess.

Rick "hoping some measurements will loosen some keyboards" Denney
 
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rdenney

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Progress report, for posterity.

The F12’s are heavy at over 60 pounds each. compared to stacked Advents, they are not huge, however, despite comments in reviews.

The use of two amps is probably just for fun. The gain isn’t increased in the way I expected without thinking about it. Voltage gain is what it is whether the amp is driving full spectrum or not, and in fact the amp is driving full spectrum, it’s just that the passive crossovers in the speakers are filtering some of it out. But it can’t hurt. I used the horizontal method to preserve the balance control function. One amp drives left and right woofers, and the other drives left and right mids and tweeters

That said, I still have all the dynamics I had with the stacked Advents. These are 3 dB more efficient—the same 3 dB I gained from adding a second pair of Advents and a second amp to drive them. I played the to 103 dB SPL peaks at the listening position with no hint of strain—the real test has to wait until the wife isn’t home. I doubt there will be a problem reaching 108 dB peaks, which is where the Advents started to sound strained.

And these sound excellent. The listening position changes made all the difference.

F12-from-LP.JPEG

The wife likes the new arrangement, too.

REW is next. But I’m not hearing anything untowards.

I’m listening to Liszt tone poems played on two pianos right now. Next up is Genesis’s Selling England by the Pound. I need more listening to really know much, but they sound good so far.

Rick “a good start” Denney
 

MrPeabody

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Nice. I auditioned the F12 back when they were a current product. I didn't buy them but later wished that I had. Because they are true 3-way, I think they may be a better speaker than the F36. Where did you find this pair?
 

Beershaun

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Looking good. If you have some kind of room correction dsp that may be a better solution than room treatment and have higher WAF. Also getting a streaming endpoint if she likes to listen to Spotify or whatever her music service of choice is she can simply connect to your big system and get to use it and appreciate it herself.
 

Blumlein 88

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I've got some of these in my video system up front. Used them in stereo for some time. They are really good speakers. My other speakers are Soundlab Electrostats.

A friend had the amps you have at one time, and they should be just fine with your speakers. I would have bi-amped them the other way, but I don't really know there is any difference in the end. Just possible to use longer interconnect and shorter speaker cables.

So far I'd say your positioning of them in your space is about the best you could do. You could experiment with toeing them in a bit toward the LP. A little change here will change how the sidewall reflections pan out. Maybe better, maybe not. As your room is not symmetrical perhaps toeing in just the right speaker a bit would work. They'll work just fine much further apart than you have room to place them.

There is a bit of distortion right around the crossover. I've never investigated if it is the woofer leaking out of the ports or some such. I think that is what it is actually instead of cones distorting. So you might want to hold off on adding EQ right at that point.

They don't really need a subwoofer. I use one in my video setup of course. It does help some, but then I'm using them in a rather larger room than if I had them for stereo only. I cross over at the low end at 80 hz.
 
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rdenney

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Nice. I auditioned the F12 back when they were a current product. I didn't buy them but later wished that I had. Because they are true 3-way, I think they may be a better speaker than the F36. Where did you find this pair?
On eBay. The price was maybe a coupla hundred above market, but he included shipping. And these had the cherry finish, which definitely meets spousal approval. As you can see, we do wood.

But they are missing the grills. I probably would have taken them off anyway.

Speakers on eBay are unusual because they are so expensive to ship. There was (still is) a newer black pair on eBay with grills for less than I paid, but local pickup only.

I think they could be better than the successors for my purposes—the woofers are bigger and the bass extension deeper. And the sensitivity is better.

Rick “Genesis led to Yes—Close to the Edge” Denney
 
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rdenney

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I've got some of these in my video system up front. Used them in stereo for some time. They are really good speakers. My other speakers are Soundlab Electrostats.

A friend had the amps you have at one time, and they should be just fine with your speakers. I would have bi-amped them the other way, but I don't really know there is any difference in the end. Just possible to use longer interconnect and shorter speaker cables.

So far I'd say your positioning of them in your space is about the best you could do. You could experiment with toeing them in a bit toward the LP. A little change here will change how the sidewall reflections pan out. Maybe better, maybe not. As your room is not symmetrical perhaps toeing in just the right speaker a bit would work. They'll work just fine much further apart than you have room to place them.

There is a bit of distortion right around the crossover. I've never investigated if it is the woofer leaking out of the ports or some such. I think that is what it is actually instead of cones distorting. So you might want to hold off on adding EQ right at that point.

They don't really need a subwoofer. I use one in my video setup of course. It does help some, but then I'm using them in a rather larger room than if I had them for stereo only. I cross over at the low end at 80 hz.
I knew you owned these—I think I have read every word written about these on the internet.

I did add that bit of EQ, even though I did notice that spike of distortion on the NRC measurements. But it’s about 1000 Hz higher than the dip.

As sort of a provisional starting point, I am notching 58 Hz to kill the room mode and nudging up 1500 Hz a couple of dB with very low Q. I’ll see what REW says. Toole tells us not to touch EQ above the transition frequency without basing it on anechoic data.

Side reflections probably aren’t an issue. As it turns out, the nearer right-hand reflection wall is covered up by the stuff on top of my stereo cabinet, including the turntable, picture frames, knick-knacks, etc. blank wall is above my ears in listening position. The side of the piano on the left is not covered, but I get no sense of sound from that direction. The ceiling is quiet, and the floor. I may be getting a bit of boom off the windows, though.

I wired the first speaker to one amp in vertical arrangement and tested it, and discovered that the balance control had become a tone control—it changed the balance between woofers and mids/tweeters. I didn’t want that, but it’s interesting in a way.

LP is on the right edge of the listening window so I can have room for two chairs. I’ll try all sorts of toeing before I settle on something. But widening them out invades what is already becoming a constrained spot for tuba practice. If I put a dent in my Hirsbrunner tuba on the corner of that speaker, I think I’d put a fist through a woofer, and I’m normally a peaceful kind of guy. :) I can’t afford Salon2’s because that kind of money went into tubas.

Speaker wire is 12-gauge stranded copper, four 22-foot runs. That was the last of my 250-foot spool of Belden.

More pics when I clean up the mess.

Rick “Siberian Khatru just finished, so bedtime” Denney
 
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rdenney

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Looking good. If you have some kind of room correction dsp that may be a better solution than room treatment and have higher WAF. Also getting a streaming endpoint if she likes to listen to Spotify or whatever her music service of choice is she can simply connect to your big system and get to use it and appreciate it herself.

We are old and live where the internet is poor. We don’t stream.

But I have set up Bluetooth and WiFi in the systems in both the den where the home theater sits and the workout room where I use an old Kenwood integrated amp with a pair of small Canton bookshelf speakers. She can play stuff from her phone easy-peasy, but never does.

I use the automated DSP on the home theater, but mostly just to set levels for the speakers (a mix of Linns, Polks, and a Boston Acoustics sub). But in my main music system, I use a pro-sound 20-bit parametric equalizer.

Rick “who does have Airplay on the main system, but also rarely uses it” Denney
 
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rdenney

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I spent some time with REW. One problem that emerged was the processor loop switch on my preamp is dirty and needs a Deoxit treatment, but it’s on the bottom of the stack so I’ll get to it eventually. It must be exercised frequently.

I’m a beginner with REW, so I’m sure I’m doing stuff wrong.

I’m using a Presonus Studio 24C as a USB sound card. It has good mic preamps and phantom power, and my EMM-6 measurement mic needs that. I did a loop back test on the interface and also installed the calibration file from Dayton. Here’s the mic in listening position:

Cal-mic-0321.JPEG


I set the levels at 80 dB SPL, and calibrated it with a separate SPL meter that itself is probably not that accurate, but it’s what I’ve consistently used.

Here are left and right frequency response sweeps:

REW trace 3-6 no EQ.JPG


Based on this, I made a series of corrections separately for each channel in my Yamaha pro-sound digital parametric EQ. The right channel has a null at 70 that is uncorrectable, and the left channel was low in the deep bass. There was a broad dip in both channels around 300 Hz.

I didn’t touch anything above 300 Hz in either channel. I didn’t see the anechoic dip at 1500 Hz so I left that alone. I didn’t mess with the wiggles around 800.

Here’s the frequency response with EQ:

REW trace 3-6 with EQ.JPG


Distortion seems low to me. The spike at 2500 Hz seen in test reports is there, but even the bass is rather low. Most distortion is masked by ambient noise in my room. What distortion there is is in the second harmonic.

REW distortion LT 3-6 with EQ.JPG


Here are the waterfalls, right channel first, then left:

REW waterfall RT EQ 3-6.JPG


REW waterfall LT EQ 3-6.JPG


So, I suppose it all looks okay, save a bit of low ringing in the left channel. The left channel sees into the front entry, and also a high slopped ceiling corner with a wall, about 25 feet up.

This pic shows how far the speakers sit in front of the windows behind them.

LP-from-LT.JPEG


And looking the opposite direction:

LP-from-RT.JPEG


And the listening position from behind the left speaker:

LP-from-F12.JPEG


Might as well show the electronics:

Main-03-21.JPEG


I’ve gone this far—anything else I should consider that are apparent from these measurements?

Rick “knowing what it means but not having much to compare it to” Denney
 
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Beershaun

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The correction looks great. Do you prefer a flat response or a downward slope ala Hartman response?
 
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rdenney

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I need to listen a lot before answering that. But it would take doing something specific to achieve the downward spectral tilt, and I I think I’d rather hear flat response that have to add that. Not that my hearing is flat in any case—I have age-related spectral tilt going on already.

Rick “who may just be reaping the benefits of speakers with excellent wide dispersion” Denney
 

cursive

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Nice job with the rearranging, definitely a unique layout and room shape. The measurements came out nice, I'd definitely be happy with those results, especially post EQ. I'm just learning REW myself, so hope to do similar in room measurements.

Your room looks so nice and cozy! Love a listening space that looks lived in and has plenty of interesting stuff all around, and yours definitely qualifies, the tuba taller than the speakers is especially cool.
 
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rdenney

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Wife: How tall will those speakers be?

Me: taller than the B&S F tuba, not as tall as the Hirsbrunner.

The B&S is the one standing next to my listening chair.

Rick “Hirsbrunner: 1100mm tall” Denney
 
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rdenney

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By the way, I’m glad I posted these results, because even though I updated windows this morning before making the measurements, %#%%^#%! Windows decided it had a little more to do and rebooted without the option while I wasn’t looking. %#%*^#^#! REW doesn’t auto save files for recovery.

So, all these measurements are gone.

With OS software forcing reboots, auto-save is an essential feature. I don’t care if it’s free, it needs it.

THIS is why I own and play LPs and CDs. I’m tired of these #%*^#^^#! computers with their user-hostile bloatware. Give me an ^^#%^%#! stand-alone RTA.

Rick “no, I don’t want to hear about #^^%%^%! Linux” Denney
 
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q3cpma

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By the way, I’m glad I posted these results, because even though I updated windows this morning before making the measurements, %#%%^#%! Windows decided it had a little more to do and rebooted without the option while I wasn’t looking. %#%*^#^#! REW doesn’t auto save files for recovery.

So, all these measurements are gone.

With OS software forcing reboots, auto-save is an essential feature. I don’t care if it’s free, it needs it.

THIS is why I own and play LPs and CDs. I’m tired of these #%*^#^^#! computers with their user-hostile bloatware. Give me an ^^#%^%#! stand-alone RTA.

Rick “no, I don’t want to hear about #^^%%^%! Linux” Denney
Not really the responsibility of REW to workaround Windows' fuckups. You don't want to hear about Linux/*BSD, but the reality is that the only way you'll get the OS equivalent of sitting in your old armchair in front of the chimney is by building (or at least assembling) most of it and being able to rely on a solid and simple foundation with no unexpected automagical behaviours.
 

Lsc

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On eBay. The price was maybe a coupla hundred above market, but he included shipping. And these had the cherry finish, which definitely meets spousal approval. As you can see, we do wood.

But they are missing the grills. I probably would have taken them off anyway.

Speakers on eBay are unusual because they are so expensive to ship. There was (still is) a newer black pair on eBay with grills for less than I paid, but local pickup only.

I think they could be better than the successors for my purposes—the woofers are bigger and the bass extension deeper. And the sensitivity is better.

Rick “Genesis led to Yes—Close to the Edge” Denney
Looking good! I have 2 pairs of F12s, one pair is used for my surrounds and the other pair that looks just like yours is in the rec room with the C12.

They should serve you well!
 
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rdenney

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Set it to notify you before reboot so you can schedule it to your convenience.
Kal, it is. But that no longer works, apparently. I’ll have to dig into, now that no longer ready to throw it out the window.

Rick “for whom messing with computers is too much like work” Denney
 
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rdenney

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Not really the responsibility of REW to workaround Windows' fuckups. You don't want to hear about Linux/*BSD, but the reality is that the only way you'll get the OS equivalent of sitting in your old armchair in front of the chimney is by building (or at least assembling) most of it and being able to rely on a solid and simple foundation with no unexpected automagical behaviours.

That wouldn’t be the only MS screwup they’ve worked around, I’m sure.

I have a Linux box that I built for fun, but quickly realized that was a hobby operating system—I would have to approach it like a hobby to really make it work. 30 years ago I’d be all over it. I just can’t get interested now.

I think I paid $250 for this cheapie HP laptop at Best Buy, so I get what I deserve. I bought it only to make needledrops, CD rips, and to play that stuff back. Now I have a DAW on it, REW, Audacity, and so it goes.

Rick “who has a better Dell that seems better behaved” Denney
 
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