Speaker break-in, converting 8mm film to videotape

Week 26, 2003

Q) I am in a bit of a quandary with my new speakers.   I did my research on the web for a set of bookshelf speakers in the $250 – $300 per pair price range.   I listened to them at the store yesterday and they sounded great.   Now that I have them home, they do not have the same punch and warmth that I heard at the store.   The amp at the store was different from mine, but not necessarily a significant step up.   I am considering returning them, but the alternatives did not sound as good in the store so I have no reason to think they will sound better at home.   Should I return these right away and keep trying different speakers until I find the best sound?

-Rob Oveson,, Minneapolis, Minnesota

A) Not to worry- I am sure your new speakers are fine.   If anything, speakers usually sound better in your home than they did in the store.   Your speakers just need some break-in time.  

Speakers are mechanical as well as electrical devices.     Much in the same way automobile engines need some break-in mileage before performing their best, audio speakers need broken in before their true sonic qualities become apparent.   This is especially true of higher quality speakers, such as the ones you have purchased.

Usually twenty hours of playing is enough for new speakers to open up and sound as they should.   You can hasten the process by working them when you are not home.   Play a compact disc with dynamic sounding music and set the CD/DVD player on “repeat” before you leave for work in the morning.   Set the volume at a level that is not overpowering, but fills the room with clear, undistorted music.   (Background listening levels are not loud enough to break in a speaker.)   If you are an apartment dweller, you may want to drape some folded towels over the front of the speakers to absorb the sound so you do not drive your neighbors crazy from the same music playing over and over all day.

If they still don’t sound right after three or four days of breaking them in, try moving the speakers to new positions to see if you get better sound.   If this does not work, then it may be time to return them and shop for another pair.   I strongly suspect this will be unnecessary and you will be very happy with your speakers once they are broken in.

Q) I have acquired over many years 40 to 50 reels of 8mm movies that I would now like to digitize and burn onto CDs or DVDs. Editing will also be necessary Any suggestions on the easiest and cheapest way to do this? I own a flat screen iMac computer and have access to a digital camcorder.-Fran Krawczak

A) Sima makes a device called the Copy Kit that is designed for this purpose.   The Sima Copy Kit takes an image from a movie or slide projector and puts it on a small, sharp 8×10 inch screen for subsequent recording by a camcorder.   The Sima Copy Kit is available for under $30 from www.markertek.com.

Use the Sima Copy Kit to transfer your 8mm movies to the digital camcorder.   Next, connect the camcorder to your iMac and import the digital video into Apple’s iMovie program for editing.   Once your movie is edited, if your iMac has a DVD burner you can now make DVDs.   If your iMac does not have a DVD burner, you can buy Roxio’s Toast software for $99, which will enable you to make Video CDs.

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