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How copyright makes my home stereo sounds worse

The other day I had my A/V guys over to make some adjustments to one of my systems. While there were there I asked them if they could take a look at a problem I’d been having for a while with my family room media system. I have an Anthem two-zone receiver. The first zone drives the TV and the speakers in the family room. Zone 2 drives speakers around the house through a speaker selector box. I often play music via the Apple TV on both zones 1 and 2, all around the house, say, on a Saturday. But I notice an odd echo effect between the sound coming from zone 1 speakers and that coming from zone 2: there is a slight delay, giving it a disconcerting feeling, if you are standing sort of between rooms.

I asked the media guys if there was maybe a polarity problem or an adjustable delay. They said that’s not it. Instead, all the big manufacturers of receivers have gimped their own systems due to copyright enforcement pressure from content companies: zone 1 is digital, but zone 2 has to be analog. What this means is that there is a delay in zone 1 because the DSP takes some time. So the sound coming out of zone 2 is slightly ahead of that coming out of zone 1. I said can I just buy a receiver with two digital zones? Nope, they said–the copyright enforcers don’t want you to be able to just duplicate that signal. So even if I am playing my own CD’s or streaming radio or spotify perfectly legally, I can’t have a device that digitally “splits” the signal to permit me to play it simultaneously on two zones. Instead, I can tap into the inferior analog signal and play it on zone 2, but then there are timing delays between the zones.

The media guys told me there are workarounds but they are complicated and not even guaranteed to work. I could buy some kind of add-on digital delay for zone 2, but the problem is you might never make it match up exactly, and further, the delay from zone 1 DSP varies by the type of music; it’s not necessarily a fixed delay, so there is no easy way to guarantee adding a delay to zone 2 will match it up to zone 1. I suppose I could buy two separate one-zone receivers, have all kinda signal-splitters at the output of my source devices like the Apple TV, but that’s kinda stupid.

Another example of how paying, law-abiding users are harmed by the copyright fascists.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • JdL March 9, 2013, 5:30 am

    Poor Kinsella, now hears echos in his music. I expect his next column will be “Copyright Causes Insanity!” Tell me, Kinsella, is there any evil or ill in the world that is NOT caused by copyright? To listen to your endless rants, one would think that, once horrible copyright is eliminated, the world will return to the Garden of Eden.

To the extent possible under law, Stephan Kinsella has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to C4SIF. This work is published from: United States. In the event the CC0 license is unenforceable a  Creative Commons License Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License is hereby granted.