Shaking the rust off

I’m going to use the fooforaw over Neil Young’s Pono project as a jumping-off point for a series of posts on vibration analysis. I know I’ve said this before, but in the immortal words of Bullwinkle, “This time for sure!” I need to stretch my analytical muscles here a little more, lest they atrophy.

I don’t intend to debunk Pono’s high resolution claims. Many people have already done that—you could check out Kirk McElhearn for a good example. Instead, I want to start with the vibration of simple mechanical systems and build up to the more complex systems that we use to produce, and reproduce, sound and music. It’s going to take several posts, and they’ll probably be spread out over a period of months, so if you come here for oddball scripts or Apple-related bitching there’ll still be stuff for you.

I will, however, indulge in one small bit of debunking. Neil Young is 68 years old. Even if he had taken good care of his ears, even if he had lived in an anechoic chamber his whole life, his hearing wouldn’t be good enough at the age of 68 to pick out the extreme subtleties that Pono is supposed to provide. And of course, Neil didn’t limit his exposure to loud sounds.

Because I am myself something of a relic, I remember seeing this trailer for Rust Never Sleeps in the summer of 1979. It was the loudest thing I’d ever heard in a theater. If you were in a multiplex, you could hear it from two theaters away. When a man who spent his youth playing through amplification like this tells me he needs his music sampled at 96 kHz, I am, shall we say, skeptical.

To help me write these posts, I pulled out some reference material from my library at work, including the class notes I wrote while taking a couple of vibration analysis classes in graduate school.

Vibration notes

What’s funny about this is:

Looking at my alma mater’s course listing, I see that these classes have undergone a sort of course-level inflation. CE 374 is now CEE 472, and CE 474 is now CEE 573. I’m pretty sure there were no 500-level courses in my day. Digging a bit deeper, I see that they’re now taught by a classmate of mine. Time flies.

  1. Titles of textbooks in my field are so similar as to be useless. How can anyone distinguish between Mechanics of Materials, Principles of Mechanics of Materials, and Advanced Mechanics of Materials? Authors are a much better differentiator, but when you’re halfway across the room from the bookshelf, there’s nothing like color to focus your attention in the right spot.