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Computer Audio for the Blind


rom661
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Hi Everryone

I have a client who is very interested in both the performance and accessibility advantages of computer sourced music. He is completely blind and would like to be able to control his music from his listening position. Another CA user has been helping me with the interface issues re: his lack of sight (thanks Ray and Chris), but I am not sure how to address avoiding the need for him to make his way to his equipment rack. It's a very high end system; Mark Levinson No.32 pre, 31.5 transport,30. DAC, 33H monoblocks and Sonus Faber Amati's with a Wilson sub. Obviously he needs a high performance DAC. We do ARC, Wavelength, and Ayre. He will have either a Wavelength Crimson or the new Ayre BluRay player with USB input, better performance than their current USB piece.

 

I am comfortable with meeting the performance requirements but am unsure of the best way to allow him to control it. We can do either a MacBook Pro or a MacPro. His gear is on a built in cabinet with a storage area behind it so noise and space are not concerns. The ideal would be to have his server located there and somehow be able to give him another notebook computer that allows him to control things from his listening position. Keep in mind, I'm the high end sound guy, not a computer guru.

 

Thanks in advance for any thoughts or suggestions.

 

Rick

 

Audio Research DAC8, Mac mini w/8g ram, SSD, Amarra full version, Audio Research REF 5SE Preamp, Sutherland Phd, Ayre V-5, Vandersteen 5A\'s, Audioquest Wild and Redwood cabling, VPI Classic 3 w/Dynavector XX2MkII

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I have very limited experience in this area - basically only doing some testing of Mac products in an attempt to help Ray answer some questions about a possible move to the Mac.

 

Probably he's already advised you better than I can but...

 

I would think that the best solution would be a Macbook Pro using a music player that conforms acceptably to the Voiceover feature of Apple's Universal Access, which lets you know via audio the details of the mouse placement within the app whenever the mouse is moved, etc.

 

You can try this out yourself by turning on Universal Access in System Preferences.

 

The issue I could not figure out how to solve for Ray was the inability to route the Voiceover audio to a separate output device than the music audio output. IOW, the voiceover audio is routed to the audio system, instead of to the computer's audio output device, as might be ideal (with a Macbook Pro as source).

 

If the required length of the USB cable - using a Macbook Pro - then perhaps an Opticis fiber extender would be useful. There are also USB extenders I believe. The wireless USB devices are roundly criticized, per Gordon Rankin and others. You might check in with him on this.

 

In any event, I'd recommend a mechanical solution such as one of these, as opposed to using a separate computer to access a server via VNC Screen Sharing, etc. Screen Sharing would seem to be adding an additional level of complexity.

 

Lars could comment on the Opticis quality. I believe he used it for a while. He has a Macbook Pro as source, and a very high quality system, e.g. Wilson Sashas, etc.

 

Hope this is helpful,

clay

 

 

 

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Rick - According to Apple the iPhone 3GS works well with the Remote application. Apple says the VoiceOver app assists navigation in this app. I have no idea how this works. If it does work your customer may be able to control a Mac with iTunes and have the voice commands read allowed on a nearby iPhone.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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That may well be the perfect solution, Chris. Unfortunately Braille is not an option.

 

Rick

 

Audio Research DAC8, Mac mini w/8g ram, SSD, Amarra full version, Audio Research REF 5SE Preamp, Sutherland Phd, Ayre V-5, Vandersteen 5A\'s, Audioquest Wild and Redwood cabling, VPI Classic 3 w/Dynavector XX2MkII

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For those other than Rick, Chris and Clay who already know this, I'm a totally blind user who has been working to set up a computer based audio system. When I'm truly set up, I'll lay out the whole process and steps that I've taken to reach my goal. I've gone the Mac route for several reasons and have just begun experimenting with access. As indicated above, VoiceOver (the Apple text to speech program) works very well with iTunes. The speech output does come through the audio system, but (while it does conflict with music playback) it allows full access to the iTunes functionality and only "talks" when a computer key command is sent to the system. While I haven't yet taken this next step, my plan is to use a bluetooth keyboard to control my Mac and use this for access. It should allow remote control of the system without needing to either physically access the computer itself or the equipment rack. Glad to discuss this or any other issues with those who are interested.

Ray

 

MBP13-128gb ssd using VoiceOver to hear the screen, iTunes, Ayre QB-9, McIntosh mx119 & mc207, Thiel CS2.4

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I don't have any direct experience of any of this ... but would MPd be of any use to you ....

 

There are various command like clients which may respond well to adapting for text-to-speach systems, or altrernatively some clients run via web browser.

 

Just a thought for you to look at

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Hi Eloise - I was thinking the exact same thing. A simple player like NCMPC could make things very easy. In fact I'm using it on one of my Linux servers. Minion might also be an option. Web browsers shouldn't be that difficult for screen readers.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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Thanks to all for your input. I think Ray has convinced me that the best solution is the simplest and obviously he has a perspective that I don't. We are going to use a Bluetooth keyboard and the VoiceOver feature of Mac. Ray was gracious enough to spend a couple of hours on the phone with me last night doing a tutuorial and it looks like it will work. I keep thinking I need a display somewhere. Duh.

 

Thanks to everyone and especially to Ray for being so generous with his time.

 

Rick

 

Audio Research DAC8, Mac mini w/8g ram, SSD, Amarra full version, Audio Research REF 5SE Preamp, Sutherland Phd, Ayre V-5, Vandersteen 5A\'s, Audioquest Wild and Redwood cabling, VPI Classic 3 w/Dynavector XX2MkII

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+1 on your comments about Ray. he's the best.

 

Ray,

I'm glad you made the switch to Mac, hope it's working out for you... I'm still annoyed I could not find a way (for you) to route the Voiceover audio separately from your music.

 

If I ever do you'll be the first to know.

 

And please advise if you find a a solution.

 

best,

clay

 

 

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