Author Topic: Useless functions on music equipment  (Read 1478 times)

icehaven

  • I will be in the bar, with my head on the bar
Useless functions on music equipment
« on: July 10, 2018, 10:00:31 AM »
I have an old-ish Sony MP3 player that has a 'Zappin In' button which when pressed causes the music to fade away with a whooshing noise over which a synthesised American voice says ''Zappin in'', then it proceeds to fade random tracks in and out for 10 seconds or so each, until you press the button again, then the whooshing noise and voice come back, only it says ''Zappin out'' this time, then goes back to playing normally, but not to what you were listening to before.

I've never fathomed why this exists, apart from giving the MP3 player's owner, the person who put the music on it in the first place, a little taster of the selection in case you can't decide what to listen to and/or can't remember what's on there. Even if that is what it's for (which is in itself quite pointless really) the voice is so annoying and the fading in and out so messy and awkward to listen to that it's unlikely to be used much by even the most indecisive person. And to top it all off the button is naturally positioned in such a way that it's extremely easy to press by accident, so instead of turning up something you're getting into you get ''(WHOOOSHHHH) ZAPPIN IN...'' and a fade up of something completely different, and whatever you were just getting enthusiastic about is gone and the moment is lost.
Is this just an anomaly or is it common to find this kind of supposedly useful but actually pisspoor 'feature'?

Re: Useless functions on music equipment
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2018, 10:24:23 AM »
I use Media Monkey on my PC for playing tunes and it has a crossfade option, which essentially just plays the end of the current and start of the next song simultaneously for about 3 seconds.
Someone must have decided that 3 seconds of 2 songs playing simultaneously was preferable to 3 seconds of silence.
This probably works OK if a song has a fade out (and the following song has a fade in), but that's not generally the case.

Re: Useless functions on music equipment
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2018, 12:44:04 PM »
I have an old-ish Sony MP3 player that has a 'Zappin In' button which when pressed causes the music to fade away with a whooshing noise over which a synthesised American voice says ''Zappin in'', then it proceeds to fade random tracks in and out for 10 seconds or so each, until you press the button again, then the whooshing noise and voice come back, only it says ''Zappin out'' this time, then goes back to playing normally, but not to what you were listening to before.

That's fucking bonkers. Your mp3 player should be in a mental asylum.

Sound like some attempt to jazz up the 'randomise' function, but concocted by Casey Kasem or Alan Horseshit*

*I just made this name up


I use Media Monkey on my PC for playing tunes and it has a crossfade option, which essentially just plays the end of the current and start of the next song simultaneously for about 3 seconds.
Someone must have decided that 3 seconds of 2 songs playing simultaneously was preferable to 3 seconds of silence.
This probably works OK if a song has a fade out (and the following song has a fade in), but that's not generally the case.

I think early iPods defaulted to a similar setting, a workmate had a v2 and I remember getting annoyed with it for de-bollocking tracks that had an abrupt start or end.

As you say, probably works okay for fadey in/out tracks, but who listens to those for god's sake.

Re: Useless functions on music equipment
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2018, 12:50:16 PM »
Looked up Zappin In - pretty much as you described:

     

Better Midlands

  • I'm not internationally known
Re: Useless functions on music equipment
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2018, 04:09:48 PM »
I use Media Monkey on my PC for playing tunes and it has a crossfade option, which essentially just plays the end of the current and start of the next song simultaneously for about 3 seconds.
Someone must have decided that 3 seconds of 2 songs playing simultaneously was preferable to 3 seconds of silence.
This probably works OK if a song has a fade out (and the following song has a fade in), but that's not generally the case.

We use Mediamonkey in our shops exactly because it has that function, I'm really happy with the crossfade - I think the time is programmable too. 1500 tracks, shuffle & crossfade = continuous mix of indie & dream pop etc.

I don't know if they still do it, but Topshop had a12 track playlist which changed every month - it must kill the staff's brains.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2018, 04:25:58 PM by Better Midlands »

Better Midlands

  • I'm not internationally known
Re: Useless functions on music equipment
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2018, 04:23:44 PM »
I have an old-ish Sony MP3 player that has a 'Zappin In' button which when pressed causes the music to fade away with a whooshing noise over which a synthesised American voice says ''Zappin in'', then it proceeds to fade random tracks in and out for 10 seconds or so each, until you press the button again, then the whooshing noise and voice come back, only it says ''Zappin out'' this time, then goes back to playing normally, but not to what you were listening to before.

I've never fathomed why this exists, apart from giving the MP3 player's owner, the person who put the music on it in the first place, a little taster of the selection in case you can't decide what to listen to and/or can't remember what's on there. Even if that is what it's for (which is in itself quite pointless really) the voice is so annoying and the fading in and out so messy and awkward to listen to that it's unlikely to be used much by even the most indecisive person. And to top it all off the button is naturally positioned in such a way that it's extremely easy to press by accident, so instead of turning up something you're getting into you get ''(WHOOOSHHHH) ZAPPIN IN...'' and a fade up of something completely different, and whatever you were just getting enthusiastic about is gone and the moment is lost.
Is this just an anomaly or is it common to find this kind of supposedly useful but actually pisspoor 'feature'?

Here's a demo

https://youtu.be/-jp7zm0nijs

icehaven

  • I will be in the bar, with my head on the bar
Re: Useless functions on music equipment
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2018, 04:55:08 PM »

I don't know if they still do it, but Topshop had a12 track playlist which changed every month - it must kill the staff's brains.


Friend of mine briefly worked in HMV about 15 years ago and when a 'big' album was released it'd be the only thing they could have playing all day (and sometimes the next few days too). I think even if you were excited about a new record, listening to it about 10 times in a row for 8 hours solid, and while at work, would be enough to kill it stone dead for you.

icehaven

  • I will be in the bar, with my head on the bar
Re: Useless functions on music equipment
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2018, 04:56:20 PM »
Here's a demo

https://youtu.be/-jp7zm0nijs

I'll have to have a look at that when I get home but have I missed something, is it actually remotely useful?

Better Midlands

  • I'm not internationally known
Re: Useless functions on music equipment
« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2018, 05:08:48 PM »
I'll have to have a look at that when I get home but have I missed something, is it actually remotely useful?

That video just shows the feature, this one is at trade show and they mention it halfway through just as you describe - they appear to like it, but as you said it seems totally useless.

https://youtu.be/Zdft7_15Zyk

Chriddof

  • Things start to happen!
Re: Useless functions on music equipment
« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2018, 05:18:52 PM »
The Zappin' In thing is a lot like the kind of pointless, baffling feature you'd find on a Cinco product in Tim & Eric. Even the name has that ring to it.

I had an mp3 player which wasn't an early iPod (it was some weird off-brand thing with horrible half-functioning controls) but it did have the same fade in / out shit. It was worse, actually, as you couldn't turn it off.

EDIT: Bloody hell, I just looked at the comments for that trade show video and there's mention of it breaking when it gets into contact with sweat. And you're meant to be able to wear it round your head while you exercise. That's high quality Cinco technology for ya!

Re: Useless functions on music equipment
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2018, 07:18:48 PM »
Both aiwa and sony's combo systems had weird stuff like bongos they could play over the the top. Bit like the demo function on a keyboard.

Sony also had some shocking effects on their surround telly's and stereo systems. CATHEDRAL anyone?

Re: Useless functions on music equipment
« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2018, 07:22:37 PM »

Friend of mine briefly worked in HMV about 15 years ago and when a 'big' album was released it'd be the only thing they could have playing all day (and sometimes the next few days too). I think even if you were excited about a new record, listening to it about 10 times in a row for 8 hours solid, and while at work, would be enough to kill it stone dead for you.

You know those fobt machines you get in bookies? When I worked in one of them they put a new slots game on there that was themed on Ancient Egypt. Anyhow it used to play an instrumental loop of Walk Like An Egyptian.

There could be up to four machines doing this at one time, with no synchronisation between them

Twed

  • Take a Key for Coming in!
Re: Useless functions on music equipment
« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2018, 09:45:27 PM »
I have an old-ish Sony MP3 player that has a 'Zappin In' button which when pressed causes the music to fade away with a whooshing noise over which a synthesised American voice says ''Zappin in'', then it proceeds to fade random tracks in and out for 10 seconds or so each, until you press the button again, then the whooshing noise and voice come back, only it says ''Zappin out'' this time, then goes back to playing normally, but not to what you were listening to before.

I've never fathomed why this exists, apart from giving the MP3 player's owner, the person who put the music on it in the first place, a little taster of the selection in case you can't decide what to listen to and/or can't remember what's on there. Even if that is what it's for (which is in itself quite pointless really) the voice is so annoying and the fading in and out so messy and awkward to listen to that it's unlikely to be used much by even the most indecisive person. And to top it all off the button is naturally positioned in such a way that it's extremely easy to press by accident, so instead of turning up something you're getting into you get ''(WHOOOSHHHH) ZAPPIN IN...'' and a fade up of something completely different, and whatever you were just getting enthusiastic about is gone and the moment is lost.
Is this just an anomaly or is it common to find this kind of supposedly useful but actually pisspoor 'feature'?
This fascinated so much. Here's a poor bastard who works for Sony who had to try to sell the feature to a far-too-obliging journalist/stooge: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zdft7_15Zyk

He also demonstrates the player on his head like Mark Heap does with the artifact in this Big Train sketch.

alan nagsworth

  • i heard troubled breath
Re: Useless functions on music equipment
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2018, 10:23:48 PM »
Don't most media players have a custom crossfade option? I'm almost certain Winamp and Foobar do.

I wonder if anyone has ever got a bunch of perfectly cropped dance tunes (no silence at the start or finish) at the exact same BPM and with the exact same 16-bar intro/breakdown segments, whacked them all in a playlist, put it on shuffle and let the computer play a randomly generated DJ set? That would be fucking cool. It'd also save Paris Hilton's agent a few bob getting an actual DJ to crouch behind the decks while she pretends to play.

Re: Useless functions on music equipment
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2018, 10:27:36 PM »
Virtual Dj can automix like that iirc.

alan nagsworth

  • i heard troubled breath
Re: Useless functions on music equipment
« Reply #15 on: July 10, 2018, 10:32:14 PM »
yeah but virtual dj's got a snide fucking attitude since someone installed an arm on it that can do a gunfinger gesture every time the beat drops

Better Midlands

  • I'm not internationally known
Re: Useless functions on music equipment
« Reply #16 on: July 11, 2018, 10:43:18 AM »
Don't most media players have a custom crossfade option? I'm almost certain Winamp and Foobar do.

I wonder if anyone has ever got a bunch of perfectly cropped dance tunes (no silence at the start or finish) at the exact same BPM and with the exact same 16-bar intro/breakdown segments, whacked them all in a playlist, put it on shuffle and let the computer play a randomly generated DJ set?

That's pretty much all dance DJ's do nowadays with software as mentioned above.

icehaven

  • I will be in the bar, with my head on the bar
Re: Useless functions on music equipment
« Reply #17 on: July 11, 2018, 10:44:10 AM »
This fascinated so much. Here's a poor bastard who works for Sony who had to try to sell the feature to a far-too-obliging journalist/stooge: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zdft7_15Zyk


It's just so weird isn't it? I've long suspected some Sony boss's son thought of while doing an internship or something and no one was allowed to tell him it was shithouse. 

Re: Useless functions on music equipment
« Reply #18 on: July 11, 2018, 10:55:43 AM »
And yet it's very similar design wise to Bluetooth earphones of today. Quite prescient and trying to solve a problem before the tech is too limited.

Shit Good Nose

  • Several bags of balls
Re: Useless functions on music equipment
« Reply #19 on: July 11, 2018, 11:18:40 AM »
Sony also had some shocking effects on their surround telly's and stereo systems. CATHEDRAL anyone?

My favourite on our old Sony TV was AMPITHEATRE.  I couldn't tell you what it actually did as it was indiscernible from most of the other affected audio settings.

Norton Canes

  • Nuclear know-how, with an element of truth
Re: Useless functions on music equipment
« Reply #20 on: July 11, 2018, 11:28:21 AM »
"Noise reduction?"

icehaven

  • I will be in the bar, with my head on the bar
Re: Useless functions on music equipment
« Reply #21 on: July 11, 2018, 11:44:21 AM »

Sony also had some shocking effects on their surround telly's and stereo systems. CATHEDRAL anyone?

And half the ones on stereos/MP3 players seem to be the aural equivalent of fishbowl vision.

JesusAndYourBush

  • Earnest silky coconut shell
    • http://www.google.com
Re: Useless functions on music equipment
« Reply #22 on: July 11, 2018, 11:50:53 AM »
I'm going to stick my neck out here and say Dolby.  In my experience It only ever made things sound worse.

icehaven

  • I will be in the bar, with my head on the bar
Re: Useless functions on music equipment
« Reply #23 on: July 11, 2018, 08:02:13 PM »
This fascinated so much. Here's a poor bastard who works for Sony who had to try to sell the feature to a far-too-obliging journalist/stooge: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zdft7_15Zyk

Watched it now, ha! "Oh coool!!"

Dr Rock

  • The BEST of luck!
Re: Useless functions on music equipment
« Reply #24 on: July 11, 2018, 08:53:37 PM »
I'm going to stick my neck out here and say Dolby.  In my experience It only ever made things sound worse.

Load of bollocks wasn't it. But if you said that they'd arrest you and put you in jail.

buzby

  • Member
  • **
Re: Useless functions on music equipment
« Reply #25 on: July 11, 2018, 09:51:08 PM »
I'm going to stick my neck out here and say Dolby.  In my experience It only ever made things sound worse.
The home versions (Dolby B and C) were a bit limited until they got to Dolby S (released 1989, just as everyone was abandoning cassettes). The professional systems (Dolby A and Dolby SR) were widely used by the recording and cinema industries though.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2018, 10:01:58 PM by buzby »

Twed

  • Take a Key for Coming in!
Re: Useless functions on music equipment
« Reply #26 on: July 11, 2018, 09:56:16 PM »
Thomas must be raking it in.

Re: Useless functions on music equipment
« Reply #27 on: July 11, 2018, 10:39:25 PM »
His analogue surround stuff could be done not quite as well without a decoder if you had spare speakers as well.


Re: Useless functions on music equipment
« Reply #28 on: July 12, 2018, 07:56:31 AM »
His analogue surround stuff could be done not quite as well without a decoder if you had spare speakers as well.



That's kind of how the matrix works, but I've never known anyone attempt to decode it at amp level - you're using that amp in both stereo and bridge mode simultaneously, which is really not a good idea.

The surround matrix via 2 track discrete analogue could be decoded generically at line level, taking the 2 +ve and -ve along with left and right, to create LCRS - which would normally require 4 amp channels.

JesusAndYourBush

  • Earnest silky coconut shell
    • http://www.google.com
Re: Useless functions on music equipment
« Reply #29 on: July 12, 2018, 11:21:10 AM »
The home versions (Dolby B and C) were a bit limited until they got to Dolby S (released 1989, just as everyone was abandoning cassettes). The professional systems (Dolby A and Dolby SR) were widely used by the recording and cinema industries though.

Yeah it's B and C I was referring to.  On more than one occasion in a simple experiment I'd make two recordings of something, one with dolby on, and one with it off.  Then play back the recordings with dolby off.  The one that had been recorded with dolby off sounded pretty much the same as the original (it'd probably have more hiss but the difference would be minimal and not noticeable for just one tape generation), whereas the one with dolby on had a large amount of hiss added to it.  Now play it back with dolby on and it removes the hiss.  So dolby appears to be adding hiss only to take it off again... but the resulting recording is still worse than the one you recorded with dolby off because its taken something out of the recording making it sound less good than the original whereas the one I recorded with dolby off still sounds good.  So, erm... what's the point of it?

Later I had a tape deck that had something called Dolby HX-Pro.  There was no button to switch it on, I asked the the guy in the hifi shop about that and he said it just sortof does its stuff.  I never noticed it doing anything!  A scam?