This is my editorial page and all topics are discussed here, even digital. However Analog is the primary focus.
I only ask three things of the music I set down to listen to:
1) I must love the music
2) I must enjoy the performance
3) It must have realistic sound quality that lets me forget I'm listening to a recording and can melt into the music.
December 20, 2007
discovered Classical music via Progressive and Art Rock mainly Emerson,
Lake and Palmer's versions of Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition"
and Prokofiev's Dance of the Evil God and Pagan Monsters from the
"Scythian Suite". When I purchased the original orchestral
versions of those I was in musical heaven.
I owe a huge
debt to ELP for helping me discover Classical music which until then I
thought was all academically boring music such as that composed by
Mozart and other composers whose music makes me want to
cringe. But with no guidance or at the worst the wrong
guidance from the Classical musical established recommending even more
academically boring classical music. Their excuse is I have to
"learn to like" these boring classical works. I have tried for
decades to learn to like the symphonies of Beethoven, Brahms,
Schubert, Schumann, and other so-called greats.
I have learned if I don't love a piece on the first hearing I will
never like it, never! From the very first note I loved The Rite
of Spring, Petrouchka, The Firebird, Pictures at an Exhibition, Night
on Bald Mountain, Scythian Suite, and tons of others I discovered the
hard way by buying blindly. Now we have the Internet and
streaming audio samples so no one longer needs to buy blindly. I
have always hated the music played on Classical radio stations and I
After nearly thirty years of purchasing Classical
music haphazard I now have a strategy I look for what I call "Power"
Classical orchestral music and I listen to streaming audio samples
I've put together a list "The Basic Power Orchestral Repertoire or Classical music for folks who don’t like Classical music"
This is the perfect tool for additional exploration. I love all
kinds of music from Jazz, Blues, Rock to World music but I dislike most
traditional classical music with a purple passion however Power
classical music is my absolute favorite music above all others.
December 8, 2007
Why I don't like MONO recordings, Part 2
More on Mono
me trying to listen to Mono is extremely uncomfortable and produces
nothing positive much less music. With headphones Mono comes from
center of my head instead of the way stereo does with it's miniature
sound field spread through my head and several feet behind and in front
of as well to the sides of my head. With speakers it's hard
to get a lock on the music, there is no soundfield to wrap my ears
around, it's all midrange with no image or feeling of space, the bass
sounds strange, the treble sounds hollow, and sometimes there is too
much distortion. Two channel stereo just sounds more real to me.
one of my recent trips to the thrifts I accidentally bought a Mono
classical LP and it sounded Mono. No imaging to speak of, although it
had good depth. It was boxy sounding with wooly upper bass and no deep
bass and very little high frequencies at all. This is how most Mono LPs
sound to me. There was no Mono wording so this is where you
have to be careful, before Stereo was invented Mono LPs didn't say they
were Mono. So on my next trip back to the Thrift Store back I
re-donated the damn Mono LP.
find Mono a total waste of my time, and I will make sure to look for
the word STEREO as older Mono are not marked Mono since Stereo hadn’t
been invented yet! If it doesn't say STEREO I will not buy it!
Because of most listener's thirst for new Stereo recordings one of the most fool-hearted attempts to please them was Electronically Reprocessed Stereo LPs.
These were poor attempts to monkey-up original Mono recordings to try
to make them sound Stereo. This process failed badly not only did
the not sound like real Stereo they actually sounded worse than the
original Mono LPs. This proves you cannot fake Stereo! I
also avoid these like the plague.
The one Real Mono System I've heard
only Mono I've heard that sounds correct was played on a real Mono
system using one giant speaker in the center of the room. This
system had a single full range speaker system with a huge 18 inch
woofer and unlike Mono through 2 separate speakers, it had a solid
image and excellent depth. There was not the precise location of
instruments you have with stereo but the sound was convincing and
sounded very live. If you've only heard Mono through a Stereo
system you really haven't heard Mono.
Could getting decent Mono be equipment related and whither one has their speakers set up for Stereo Wide or Stereo Narrow?
system is Stereo Wide, speakers 12 foot apart, 2 feet from the back
wall and 1 1/2 feet from the sidewall, toed in slightly. I find this
necessary to re-create an orchestral shell about 16 foot wide and about
12 foot deep. While I can re-create a quite convincing image of an
orchestra in Stereo, in Mono it completely collapses and my minds eye I
cannot lock on the musicians and the instruments they are playing in my
room. In Mono there is still depth but the sound does not extend beyond
the boundaries of the right and left speakers as they do in Stereo. In
Mono it no longer sounds like music being played in my room but a
synthetic version of music.
Double bass and cellos in Mono sound weak and thin with an almost
cardboard texture. On all systems I've owned since my first Rectilinear
Speakers Mono has sounded very, very strange. But I didn't grow up on
Mono so maybe my ears never got used to it.
my system I have never found a Mono recording that had decent bass.
Indeed the only Mono recording I've heard with any deep bass at all are
from the mid-1950's to mid-1960's. The Mono recordings from the 1930's
to 1940's have almost no bass whatsoever! I also do not find any Mono
LP sounds as dynamic as the stereo version. In my system to my ears
Mono sounds wrong in both tone and timbre, very wrong! Simple stereo
mic'ing techniques get me closer to the tone and timbre I hear in live
acoustic music in a good concert hall.
Mono in My Collection
have sold or given away all of my full Mono LPs. But I do have a
few greatest hits collections which have a few Mono selections mixed in
with the much better sounding Stereo ones. On these greatest hits
collections from performers that spanned both the Mono and Stereo era's
the only cuts that sound poor and distorted are the Mono cuts and when
a Stereo cut comes one the whole soundfield opens and the music comes
alive, there's more ambiance and the sound is fuller.
greatest hits collections that have mono songs on them include Elvis
Presley's 30 #1 Hits; The Sons of the Pioneers' Legendary Songs of the
Golden West; Songs of the Singing Cowboys; O Blues Where Art Thou and
Some Mono No longer in My Collection
100 LP set Franklin Mint's "Greatest Recordings of all time" which was
about 1/3 Mono. A lot of the Stereo stuff was fabulous but I sold
the set because there was way too much Mono and chamber music.
Toscannini's performance of Dvorak's New World Symphony from this set
is the best Mono LP I ever heard, still it sounded like Mono.
of the other Mono LPs I've owned include Paul Robson Sings; Herb Alpert
and the Tijuana Brass: The Lonely Bull; HELTER SKELTER: A Concert in
The Park by the Band of the Welsh Guards; GERSHWIN: Rhapsody In Blue
& American In Paris / Leonard Pennario (Piano) Felix Slatkin,
Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra. As well as a few mint Mercury
Olympian and RCA LM Classical LPs. Plus a few Mono LPs picked up
by accident at the thrifts and then re-donated.
on Mono SACD: Ella Fitzgerald/Louis Armstrong: Ella & Louis; Sonny
Rollins: Saxophone Colossus and some of the early Rolling Stones titles.
Sonny Rollins' "Saxophone Colossus" is not Stereo!
was really upset when I purchased Sonny Rollins' "Saxophone Colossus"
SACD on Analogue Productions the sticker on the front proudly
proclaimed "Hybrid Stereo SACD" I put it in my SACD player with
high expectations of this classic in glorious Stereo and instead I got
low resolution one-dimensional Mono.
was heartbroken as I had heard how great the music was supposed to be
on "Saxophone Colossus" and here was a chance to have it in real Stereo
and that hope was dashed by an incorrectly labeled SACD. This was
a followup purchase to Sonny Rollins' superb sounding "Way Out West"
am totally shocked that "The Tape Project" chose this Mono recording
for their extremely expensive 2 Track 15 IPS Reel to Reel tapes.
Why not the Stereo "Way Out West" instead?
it or not Classic Records has been releasing 200 Gram versions of Mono
LPs. I don’t know what is this obsession of Audiophile labels of
late reissuing Mono LPs especially ones available in stereo!
has been in use for over 50 years and I have millions of STEREO
recordings in every format to pick from. So why should I listen to a
Mono recording when I cannot tolerate how they sound? My leisure time
is much more valuable than that! No
matter what anyone preaches Mono is a crippling of sound. I am quite
happy now that I have traded in or given away most of my Mono
had Stereo when I was a teenager, my first recordings were on Stereo 8
Track cartridges. If it was still the early 1950's I would have to
listen to Mono as I would not know STEREO existed. I likely wouldn't
enjoy music near as much.
We are very lucky indeed to live in the STEREO age.
December 7, 2007Why I don't like MONO recordings, Part 1
dislike the dismal sound of MONO, it's tinny midrange sound, it's high
distortion level, it's one-dimentional indistinct soundfield, like an
orchestra played through a tin can! Yet some people defend MONO
and I have not the faintest idea why. Maybe they sound
better if you have only one speaker?
Because I don't like MONO
LPs I have been accused in the Vinyl Asylum of only caring about the
sound quality of a recording. Sound is but 1/3 of the musical
equation. I have sold many STEREO recordings because I didn't
care for the music or the performance. I do not listen to
something I do not like no matter how good it sounds!
want music I love, coupled with excellent performances and realistic
enjoyable sound. I'm not like some people who listen to music
studiously, listen only to artists who are supposed to be
mandatory. I listen to music I enjoy, not to study. If I
don't enjoy the music it is a total waste of my time.
I ask three things of the music I set down to listen to:
1) I must love the music
2) I must enjoy the performance
3) It must have realistic sound quality that lets me forget I'm listening to a recording and can melt into the music.
3 I cannot do with MONO, ELECTRONICALLY PROCESSED, or poorly recorded
STEREO as the recording itself makes me grossly aware I am listening to
a recording and not listening to the music being played.
In MONO the timbre of the instruments is wrong, one visit to a live acoustic orchestral concert is all one needs.
aspects of music are important to concentrate on one at the exclusion
of the others is an abomination to the composers and artists. The
space the music is played in is as important as the music played as is
the silence between the notes played. Music making is a
natural living event! That is what some do not understand in
defending the musically deficient MONO format.
my system well made STEREO recordings are rendered in a near perfect
rendition of the orchestral shell. This is comfortable and allows
me to forget I'm listening to a recording and I can enjoy the music
also DO NOT like MONO TV or MONO MOVIES, I prefer to watch movies and
televisions shows in STEREO as the sound is drastically better.
I make for DAMN SURE any recording says STEREO before I buy it!
November 25, 2007
New thoughts on plastic outer sleeves
no longer use LP outer sleeves and have not for almost a year with no
ill effects to the LP covers. I now believe as long as one keeps
their LPs perfectly vertical with no lean right or left and not packed
too tight one should not suffer ring wear. I threw all my re-sealable
sleeves in the trash as on many the sticky was worn out and the hard
plastic was showing scratches and bends. In other words they looked
beautiful in plastic when the sleeves were new but started to look
crappy as they were opened and closed a dozen or so times. I love my
records even more in the nude, free of the plastic dressing!
Gatefold LPs are so beautiful without being trapped in sleeves. I love
pulling out and flipping through my LPs, they are so much more "real"
not being sealed in plastic.
The Tape Project and the real world
am sure The Tape Project 2 Track 15 IPS Reel to Reels are the finest
recordings ever released to the public but I can't justify the cost for
myself as I make $8.54 per hour. But for the upper middle class and the
rich why not have the best? So even though they cost
$329.00 each I am leaving them on my site as these are the closest we
are likely ever to get to Master tape quality.
The fastest speed I can play is 7 1/2 IPS and my deck is 4 Track NAB. 2 Track 15 IPS machines even used are very expensive.
of my 4 Track 7 1/2 IPS Reel to Reels have been purchased from eBay and
the average price is $8.84 including shipping and handling. When you
figure the ones I had to throw away due to squeaking, missing tape, bad
splices, etc. my total outlay is just over $10 per tape and I have some
fantastic sounding ones including some duplicated in real time on
I would love to have most of "The Tape Project's" Reel to Reels, maybe someday I will be rich?
What if Elcaset was re-introduced with Dolby S, Metal tape and tons of software?
there enough of us analog tape lovers to make it a go? I believe such a
format would easily surpass SACD, DVD-Audio, LP and should be close to
the fidelity of 7 1/2 IPS reel to reel if not superior!
It could be called "Super-Elcaset" . I can envision home, car and portable players.
Keeping playback azimuth set
setting playback azimuth use something to set the screw to keep it from
coming out of adjustment again such as Loctite. I went cheap and
used clear nail polish and my azimuth is holding well.
July 22, 2007
More on my journey to multiple formats
the early to mid 1970's my single format was pre-recorded Reel to Reel.
I had no TV, because I disliked the shrill buzz caused by mono TV's
19kHz-carrier frequency. It was just pre-recorded Reel to Reel, which I
mostly had to mail order, as most stores didn't carry pre-recorded Reel
to Reels although everyone carried blank ones. Muntz Stereo Tapes was
the only store that had a decent supply of pre-recorded Reel to Reels
of all types of music. They mostly sold 8 Track cartridges but also had
4 Track cartridges and Reel to Reel; no cassettes as they were still a
dictation medium at the time.
in the mid 1970's Advent Process CR/70 cassettes showed up at my local
stereo store, and they had demo tapes I listened and fell in love. I
bought a Luxman Cassette deck and then came the In Sync Laboratories
cassettes made on Nakamichi 681 Cassette Decks in real time on TDK SA
tape. I kept reading about Nakamichi and I had to get a Nakamichi deck,
I got a Nakamichi 481 and soon MFSL came out with their High Fidelity
Cassettes and that is when I decided to sell my Reel to Reel deck and
Pre-recorded Reel to Reel tapes.
from about 1978 until CD came out my single format was Cassette, I
still had no TV. I didn't get TV until Stereo TV came out which sounded
good through my stereo speakers to my ears and which either no longer
had the shrill buzz from mono TV's 19kHz carrier frequency or I lost
sensitivity in that area.
didn’t really seriously consider collecting LPs until after my
disappointment with CDs. So you might say it was poor sound quality of
CDs that introduced me to LPs. Previous to the invention of CDs I had
rejected LPs because of the surface noise, pops and ticks.
I have LPs, Cassettes, Reel to Reels, CDs, SACDs, DVD-Audios and
DVD-Videos and cannot imagine limited myself to a single format again.
But if I have to limit myself to one single format it would be analog
Why I enjoy pre-recorded Cassettes so much and how to get the best sound.
cassettes, especially audiophile ones but often commercial ones as well
sound extremely realistic on my current Nakamichi CR-1 cassette deck.
Its midrange is warm and extremely life-like and produces the most
goose bumps of any format I own. The best 7 ½ IPS Reel to Reels and
audiophile LPs offer a little more extension in the high frequencies
but cassettes give a more consistent thrill ride and I find myself
reaching for a cassette to play more often than LP, Reel to Reel,
DVD-Audio or SACD.
unlike commercial LPs most commercial cassettes actually have the full
deep bass of the master tape as they don’t have to be rolled off for
longer playing times, easier pressing, etc. For LPs you have to turn to
Audiophile LPs to restore this deep bass.
cassettes, especially commercial ones get a bum-rap due to poorly made
cassette decks in which playback azimuth is not optimized, Dolby
tracking is off or poor quality components were used. On my first well
made cassette deck, a mechanical controlled Luxman pre-recorded
commercial cassettes sounded very poor with a strident upper midrange
and rolled off highs. However audiophile pre-recorded cassettes (MFSL,
In Sync Labs, Direct to Tape, Sound Ideas, Audible Images, etc.)
sounded superb and produced some of the most realistic sound I had
didn't know commercial cassettes could sound good on a Nakamichi as
commercial cassettes sounded dreadful with HF roll-off on the Luxman so
they were never tried on the Nakamichi 480. At the time my cassette
only system was the Nakamichi 480 cassette deck, Luxman Integrated Amp
and Infinity Q-A's.
sold the Nakamichi 480 and all of my pre-recorded cassettes in 1983 to
raise the $900.00 needed to buy the first CD player, the Sony CDP-101.
The biggest mistake of my life. Not only was the CD dreadful sounding
to this day I still have only found a small of portion of my favorite
audiophile cassettes. I didn't keep any cassettes as my car at the time
only had an AM/FM radio. Later in the 1990’s I got a car with a
cassette deck and started collecting cassettes again, many of them
commercial releases. It was only two years ago I got a home cassette
deck again, a Nakamichi CR-1 that sounds great with both audiophile and
most commercial pre-recorded cassettes.
folks lose high frequencies on Dolby encoded pre-recorded cassettes due
to inaccurate Dolby tracking. With a correctly working Dolby circuit
the highs are boosted on recording only below a certain threshold and
the cut by the same amount and replay. The end result the original
frequency response restored and moving the noise floor down when the
music is low in level.
this for an experiment record something with almost NO dynamic range
thus the Dolby circuits should not come on. The effect should be
exactly the same with or without Dolby. If Dolby version you made has
less highs than the non-Dolby version you made, you need to have the
Dolby tracking adjusted.
I don’t have a source "azimuth" playback head adjustment tape. Mobile
Fidelity made a great one called the "Geo-tape" which is now impossible
to find. But there is a way to adjust azimuth manually. Get your decks
service manual and look for the azimuth screw and while playing a tape
with lots of high frequency content adjust the screw for the widest
high frequency response. You have now dialed in the azimuth manually
and are ready to enjoy the cassettes at their very best. Also follow
the other helpful hints on my cassette page.
May 14, 2007
Analog Cassette is my favorite format.
cassettes as played through a correctly aligned Nakamichi sound so
real! I listen to recordings in most formats, Reel to Reel, Cassette,
LP, CD, SACD and DVD-Audio I get the most Goosebumps from Cassettes.
Cassettes have a midrange purity, especially through tubes that
offers the most realistic portrayal of the human voice, musical
instruments, soundstaging, and accurate deep, deep bass I have
ever heard. And even in the high frequencies where Cassettes are
traditionally challenged they usually not so on a Nakamichi. On my
Nakamichi the high frequency response is superior to CD and even
sometimes SACD and DVD-Audio and is only surpassed by 7½ IPS Reel and
Reel and audiophile LPs.
Finally CD without pain and how it sounds compared to other formats.
have finally gotten "some" CD playback that is listenable without pain.
The very best CDs (there are so few) are often quite enjoyable as well.
As far as digital, the better SACDs can often get about 80% of the
glory of the best analog.
In my system, the best sound (on average) is as follows:
Real Time duplicated 7½ IPS pre-recorded Reel to Reel tape such as
those by Sound Ideas, Ambisonic, Sonic and Direct To Tape Company. 15
IPS would be even better but I can't play 15 IPS, all four of the above
companies also made 2 Track 15 IPS reels.
2) The better audiophile LPs from real audiophile companies such as Reference Recordings, Speakers Corner, Analogue Productions, Classic Records, etc.
Real Time duplicated audiophile Cassettes such as MFSL, Aesthetic
Audio, Audible Images, Sound Ideas, In Sync Laboratories, etc.
4) Most slow speed duplicated pre-recorded Reel to Reels from the mid 50's to 1960's.
5) The better SACDs especially from DSD or Analog masters.
6) The better DVD-Audios from 24Bit 96kHz or 192kHz PCM masters or analog masters.
7) The better pre-recorded commercial cassettes.
8) The later 1970's pre-recorded Reel to Reels.
9) The better "decoded" HDCD CDs especially from Reference Recordings.
10) The better commercial LPs.
11) SACDs from low resolution 24 Bit 48kHz PCM or lower masters.
12) DVD-Audios from low resolution 24 Bit 48kHz PCM or lower masters.
13) The better CDs especially those from Telarc, Reference Recordings (non-HDCD), etc.
Poorly mastered recordings in any format. LP, Reel to Reel, Cassette,
CD, HDCD, SACD or DVD-Audio. CD seems to have the most poorly mastered
recordings but LP is close behind.
I finally now have listenable and sometimes enjoyable CD playback with
perhaps the top 0.01% of CDs made. The percentage of fantastic LPs is
closer to 1%, and over the years I am getting better at picking the
right ones. The best LPs sound so realistic and with a feeling of
"being there" that even SACD cannot match. The best CDs by comparison
sound like good recordings nothing more. Only the top LPs, Cassettes,
Reel to Reels, SACDs, DVD-Audios and LPs could ever fool me into
believing I am hearing real musicians in my listening room.
very recently I could not find any CD I could listen to on any of the
previous 9 machines I had that played CD including a $1,700.00 Audio
Alchemy DDSIII / Adcom GDA-700 HDCD decoder combo. My Yamaha S-1700
universal finally makes CDs acceptable and often very enjoyable. CD on
any equipment I have every heard playing audiophile recordings cannot
come close to equaling audiophile recordings on LP. Just compare
Reference Recordings HDCDs to the LPs, or Classic Records LPs to the
192kHz DVD-Audios or Groove Note LPs compared to Groove Note SACDs. If
an audiophile SACD and DVD-Audio can't equal an audiophile LP there is
no way in hell a low resolution CD can. But that does not mean that CDs
that have no Analog or High Resolution equivalent cannot be enjoyed
without the usual pain.
don’t like most highly compromised commercial recordings from most or
the major and minor record labels and I truly believe these LPs can
sound as bad as the worst CDs. I never use highly compromised major
label recordings to judge equipment or formats.
are NEVER made when actually enjoying the music. It is afterwards and
over decades when mentally reliving the experiences. In most formats I
got lost in the music and am unable to do it at that time except to
make mental notes on what one format can or cannot do that another can.
In a perfect world I would be able to buy all the music I love on real
time duplicated 15 IPS Reel to Reels at a reasonable price and own a
machine to play them. But since this is not possible every single
format has its own set of compromises I find owning multiple formats my
answer to this dilemma.
for me CDs have been almost impossible to endure, it is only recently
that by some miracle that CD playback took a giant leap forward into
the area of listenability, something I thought was totally impossible
mainly due to CD's brickwall filter and other issues of 44.1kHz. But CD
is not high fidelity yet and may never be. On the other hand if Blu-Ray
does double speed DSD as some are saying we may just get a digital
format that can give get close to the realism of analog.
point I am trying to make is the best CDs are poor in comparison to the
best LPs. CD is almost a total and complete joke. At least on the new
Yamaha players the PAIN is gone; this was not possible with even
extremely expensive transports and separate DA converters of the past.
2006 may be know as the year this all changed if other companies use
the techniques Yamaha has to kill "Digitalis" in CD. I can’t wait for
this to make it to the high end. Imagine a high end CD player with all
the resolution of a high end CD without the PAIN! We might even get CD
playback up to the level of analog cassette. I’m not holding my breath
but it may just happen. Only the future can revel this for us.
reason I got the Yamaha universal is not for it’s "listenable" CD
playback but for the SACD and DVD-Audio playback which get me about 80%
of the realism of analog and offers music and musicians not available
on any analog format. The fact that is CD playback was listenable was
an unexpected bonus.
own and listen to nearly every format except 8-Track and Elcasette
which puts me in a unique position to make these comparisons.
is no Digital system anywhere that can capture all the ambiance,
resolution and "you are there" feeling of the best analog, not 24 Bit
96kHz PCM, not DSD and certainly not low resolution 44.1kHz CD. But for
recordings not otherwise available, CD playback for me is now a
possibility! This will add to the richness and diversity of my music
March 11, 2007
Analog lady ventures into the Digital terrain, once again!
Telarc’s PURE DSD Classical SACDs are the most realistic Digital I've ever heard.
have never deleted any of my databases so I sometimes look at
recordings I've owned in the past. The only SACDs I miss are the Telarc
Classical both PURE DSD and the 50kHz Soundstream. It has to do with
engineering and the spot on correct timbre accuracy as well as the
realistic deep bass.
missed the Telarc SACDs so much that I have purchased an SACD player
for the third time. It’s a Yamaha Natural Sound DVD-Audio/Video SACD
Player DVD-S1700. For now I only plan only to buy Telarc’s as I have
LP, Cassette and Reel to Reel for all of my other music.
wanted a player with the smoothness of tubes but not a tubed player
again because of the heat generated inside the player may make other
potential problems worse. The Yamaha DVD-S7100 is the first player I
have owned that makes better regular CDs such as Telarcs sound smooth,
comfortable and quite listenable. No it is not a cure-all as most CDs
still sound awful and many quite painful.
prefer Classic Records re-master LPs of the RCA Living Stereos and
Speaker’s Corner and Classic Records re-master LPs of Mercury Living
Presence to the more reasonably priced SACDs . And my two favorite
Vanguard SACDs (Thomson: The River & Gould/ Gottschalk) I have on
Analogue Productions LPs in even better sound.
fellow Analog Lovers it is mainly Telarc I am missing from my stable of
favorite recordings, and with tribulation and a little fright I have
ventured again into the SACD waters. Were it not for Telarc, I could
have avoided SACD the rest of my life.
DSD is not a guarantee of excellent sound, as evident by the grossly
bad sounding SACDs from LSO Live. Also just before I left SACD last
time many small classical labels begin issuing SACDs, most sounded like
they were from low-resolution PCM masters. This is another reason I am
only buying Telarc SACDs. I have a wonderful collection of LPs and Reel
to Reels and I don’t want to gamble on these other labels recordings.
I am hoping the third time is a charm. Also I would like to stress that my main focus is and will continue to be Analog.
December 31, 2006
is very good at measuring certain performance areas. For example linear
frequency response, noise and some types of distortion. Science has
also discovered "Damping Factor" effects "woofer" control, with a low
damping factor producing loose and wooly bass and a high damping factor
producing taunt and articulate bass.
most performance areas still cannot be measured and thus compared by
science and that is where human hearing is paramount! Things that still
cannot be measured but are not limited to include timbre accuracy,
warmth, realism, soundstaging, presence, etc.
jitter was discovered CD players with lower jitter values were more
listenable with some of the upper mid-range shrillness removed. I
believe there are still more Digital distortions to be discovered and
lowered to their absolute minimum values before most or all of CDs
upper mid-range shrillness is removed. This is science's biggest job
right now is to discover all the distortions in Digital so they can be either lowered or removed.
solid state amplifiers with high levels of the "newly discovered TIM
distortion do indeed sound poor. But I watched many reviewers and
designers in the 1970's defend these designs because they measured
perfect with the known measurements of the time. The lowering of TIM
distortion brought solid state a little closer to the realism of tubed
things that effect the sound of interconnects and speaker cables the
most is induction, compliance, gauge, length, purity of the metals, how
the wires are wrapped and the insulation materials used. Also type of
metal used effects sound, silver being more accurate and copper being
warmer with more impact in the bass. Even moving cables effects their
sound. There is very little scientific study of cable parameters thus
science cannot predict the sound of cables. The only way is to plug
them in, let them break in and listen. This is why a 30-day trail or
satisfaction guarantee for cables is the only way to buy them.
sound perception and audio equipment are fields that are pretty much
wide open there is a lot left to be discovered and explained so it can
be measured. I for one do not believe all parameters of sound will ever
be explained by science.
December 3, 2006
is missing when one records LPs to CD-Rs is the upper high frequencies
including the attack of high frequency instruments the air around the
instruments and the upper ambiance. Basically it’s like someone
throwing a blanket over the speakers. The resulting sound is dull and
lifeless and his no feeling.
the other hand I find recording high resolution Digital to 4 Track 7½
IPS Reel to Reel actually improves the sound. I Recorded three
DVD-Audios on my Dokorder 7100 using Ampex 641 tape at 7 ½ IPS and the
copy actually sounds better than the original, it has more and deeper
bass and a larger soundstage and center imaging is larger and more
real. The increased bass warmth is because of tapes "head bump". I
think the greater imaging of the copy over the original is because of
Digital's greater channel separation. The channel separation of the RTR
is 55dB versus over 100dB with Digital is I believe what gives the copy
a wider, deeper soundstage is better center channel fill due to the
lower (worse) channel separation.
DVD-Audios were 24 Bit 96kHz and 24 Bit 192kHz and there were no loses
at all. This is not so when I record LP as there is a slight dulling of
the high frequencies when recorded at 7-½ IPS.
my conclusion is LP is not only vastly superior to redbook CD but
192kHz PCM as well as there was no loss of high frequencies when
recording from DVD-Audio and there was high frequency loses when
recording from LP. Meaning the high frequency performance of my LP is
superior to both my RTR and DVD-Audio player.
"The Tube" on Tacet the 180 Gram LP version is audibly superior to the excellent SACD version.
can and has been verified by everyone who has heard both. If what the
CD-R crowd is saying is true the CD-R copy of the LP that they claim
would sound identical to the LP would also sound better than the SACD!
That is just not logical. Also most audiophile LPs are sonically
superior to their SACD versions.
is missing from CD-R's is the same thing missing from digitally
mastered LPs is the upper ambiance, the upper high frequencies and the
attack of high frequency percussion instruments. Also CD-R's soften the
transits and makes the sound dull and uninvolving. Not small
differences but entire parts of the sonic landscape being removed as if
someone threw a heavy blanket over the speakers.
CD-R's do not sound as bad as pre-recorded CD but they sound pretty bad.
addition all the CD-R's I've tested, I have also tested LP recorded to
48kHz DAT. Digital cannot and I do not believe will ever be able to
capture the resolution of a good LP, although 192kHz PCM can more close.
October 27, 2006
Lamenting the impending death of the Cassette.
MP3 and iPod have all but killed the cassette.
Another casualty brought on by the Digital revolution. I am a fan of
audiophile cassettes but what is little known is how good even
commercial duplicated cassettes can sound on a good deck like
Nakamichi. This is a level of sound MP3 and iPod can never hope to
achieve. It is sad to see people dumping their cassettes the way they
dumped their LPs never realizing what they are losing sonically and
musically. These are sad days indeed.
There are several theories on why ultrasonics effect the audible frequencies.
are the locational cues and ultrasonic frequencies above 20kHz are not
turned into sound but processed by the brain. The tiny cilia (hairs) in
the inner ear that vibrate and turn air motion into sound responds to
frequencies up to 80kHz. Science still does not know how our brain
processes these signals above 20kHz but take them away and there is an
second theory is these frequencies above 20kHz actually effect the
frequencies below 20kHz and take them away and timbre, ambiance and
locational cues change.
Both theories complement each other and are both likely correct.
The Analog Sound
There is an "Analog" sound warm, lively and realistic and a "Digital" sound cold & analytical.
I find that all analog has this very evolving "you are there" sound from any analog format I own LP, Reel to Reel and cassette.
the coldness of Digital increases as you lower the sampling frequency
and bit rate. I find 192kHz PCM to have almost as much resolution and
warmth of the best LPs but it is still not there. Thanks to Classic
Records new HDADs with CD and 200 Gram LP version it is now possible to
compare the same release in 192kHz PCM, 96kHz PCM, 44.1kHz and 200 LP.
The 200-Gram LP will always win in both resolution and realism every
The Pleasures of well recorded analog
a real violinist "in the minds eye" drawing his bow across the strings
and producing beautiful music, visualizing the space where he is
standing the air around his violin and the shape and size of his
violin, the ambiance in the hall where he is playing his violin and
likewise all the musicians playing with this is quite a wonderful
experience. Thank you analog!
Analog cassette and DVD-Audio comparisons
Dokorder Reel to Reel is in the shop and I had a cantilever accident
with my Music Hall MMF-5 turntable, so I have only two sources and have
been playing lots of DVD-Audios and Cassettes:
DVD-Audio - Toshiba SD-5700 - $550.00 retail
Cassette - Nakamichi CR1-A cassette deck - $400.00 retail
like the cassettes much better than the DVD-Audios; they just sound
more real and alive! Audiophile cassettes from the 1970’s are the best
but many regular commercial cassettes also sound excellent. Nakamichi
seems to be able to drain an amazing amount of resolution out
pre-recorded cassettes. There is something that is missing even from
192kHz 24 Bit DVD-Audios that even the lowly cassette format does
right. It’s like some kind of undiscovered Distortion digital has,
Digital does sound much better after they discovered Jitter and then
were able to lower it. But there is still something else that separates
the flavors of analog and digital. What separates Cassette from Reel to
Reel is resolution, impact, lack of compression, etc. I’m working on
language to describe what digital does wrong.
think part of what is missing from digital is the human quality,
emotion etc. and not resolution. So I think improvement in Digital is
going in the wrong direction.
music sources right now I have only had the Nakamichi cassette deck and
the Toshiba DVD-Audio player as the Reel to Reel is still in the shop.
And I am waiting for a new cartridge for my turntable as I accidentally
destroyed my cantilever. I am shocked at how much more I enjoy
pre-recorded cassettes over even the best DVD-Audios.
Some of the cassettes played in the past week include
MFSL High Fidelity Real Time duplicated on BASF chrome tape.
Cafe High Fidelity Real Time duplicated on BASF chrome tape.
Reference Recordings Real Time duplicated on TDK Metal tape from the
Analog backup masters of Sheffield Lab Direct to Disc recordings.
Plus many excellent sounding regular commercial cassettes.
also played the 2 channel mix of the DVD-Audio’s including AIX, Warner,
etc. They do sound excellent but they do not satisfy the soul the way
any analog format will.
last week has been a revelation, as I knew LPs and Reel to Reels were
superior to high-resolution digital but surely not cassettes! I was
wrong, and digital still has a long ways to go.
October 10, 2006
My special thanks to low resolution CDs!
Ironically it was low resolution PCM Digital that helped me accept the physical limitations of the three main analog formats.
Digital I could not tolerate "surface noise" or "tape hiss"
always-trying new ways to minimize them. Which is a worthy pursuit in
and of itself however I was not fully appreciating how wonderful and
alive the music sounded. That is until I lived with cold, dead,
analytical low resolution PCM Digital via the CD format.
was one of the fools who bought that dreadful sounding first Sony CD
Player, the CDP-101 the day it came out in my quest to minimize or
eliminate noise. At the time I listened only to audiophile cassettes,
having switched from Reel to Reel to Cassette and I didn’t like LPs
because of the surface noise. Three months before the CDP-101 came out
I sold my Nakamichi Cassette Deck and all of my audiophile cassettes to
finance the $900.00 for the CDP-101. Sony was promising "Perfect Sound
Forever" and the ads looked so cool showing the concert hall. I thought
I was finally going to get my wish realistic music with no noise, boy
was I wrong! What I got was a CD player that within 6 months caused me
to hate music completely. I sold the CDP-101 and it was over a year
before I was able to listen to music again and that is when I bought my
first post CD turntable the Ariston RD-40.
then I have tried many CD players each time there was a major leap
promising more analog-like sound and every single time a bald-faced
lie. I tried separate transports and A/D converters, tubes player,
24/96 up-sampling, CD rings, CD mats, Stoplight green pen for marking
the outside edges and lastly Shine-Ola polish. I will never try CD
do like SACDs and DVD-Audio if they are from Analog, DSD or 24 Bit PCM
masters sampled at 96kHz or higher. However SACDs and DVD-Audios
packaging usually do not tell me what type of master was used and if
the recording was ever converted to low resolution PCM. So buying them
is really a gamble as there is no way to tell if low resolution PCM was
used until I listen to them. LPs and Reel to Reels musically and
sonically easily beat the best sounding SACDs and DVD-Audios, so for me
LPs and Reel to Reels are safer purchases.
all the bad things Digital has done to the music world I wanted to give
it credit in my finally accepting the limitations of the analog
formats. Sort of like Ying and Yang, Good and Evil. It took living with
low resolution CD Digital to show me how wonderful analog actually is.
October 8, 2006
LP Playback can be a Royal pain
when I play an LP from my collection. New LPs require additional steps
of deep cleaning and Gruv-Glide anti-static treatment.
I take the LP cover out of it’s clear plastic resealable outer sleeve
Take the LP out of the rice paper innersleeve
Put the LP on the turntable
Screw down the record clamp
Clean the stylus with Zerodust
Brush off loose dust with my carbon fiber brush
Play Side One
Then 15-20 minutes later unscrew the record clamp
Turn the record over
Screw down the record clamp
Brush off loose dust picked up from the mat with my carbon fiber brush
Clean stylus again
Play side two
Then 15-20 minutes later unscrew the record clamp
Take the LP off the turntable
Inspect LP for any loose dust and remove
Put LP back in the rice paper innersleeve
Put cover back in it’s clear resealable plastic outer sleeve.
This is the part of LP playback I don't like, but when the music starts it really is worth all the trouble.
My ears and low resolution PCM
cannot enjoy music on most CDs or any low-resolution digital as it
produces excessive pain in my head. In other words it is painful noise
not music to me. I don't intentionally torture myself.
digital sounds more comfortable and more like analog and with very rare
exceptions does not produce pain. There is a list of DVD-Audio and SACD
titles that are painful and I suspect that at some point in their
production they went though low resolution PCM. Same thing with
digitally mastered LPs, some of those are real ear rippers.
enough digitally remastered cassettes do not cause pain and I have
theory that it is because at 0dB Cassettes high frequencies roll off at
about 9kHz, below 16 Bit 44.1kHz’s problem area. Cassette frequency
response is measured at a recording level of -20dB and my Nakamichi
cassette decks response is 20-20kHz +/-3dB
anyone gets bent out of shape this is a problem area of CD for my
hearing, you may hear differently and might not experience pain.
September 28, 2006
Imaging and PRaT
Imaging and Soundstaging lets you actually see the musicians and their instruments in the mind's eye
and more importantly the space between. "Visual" spatial effects are
NOT artifacts of the recording process as some claim. As the better the
recording engineer and the reproducing system the more lifelike these
spatial effects are. Reference Recordings LPs are an excellent example
of realistic spatial imaging.
(Pace, Rhythm & Timing) actually allow you to get "into" the music.
It gets your body moving and your feet stomping. If PRaT is in the
original recording then it is the job of the reproducing system not to
destroy it. Some very expensive systems do destroy PraT.
Both PRaT and Imaging are important for the total musical experience!
best thing to do when listening to a new component is to close your
eyes, listen to the music and not the sound. If it takes you away it
has PRAT; if it doesn’t it does not have PRAT.
CHRIS ISAAK'S "Heart Shaped World"
played Chris Isaak's "Heart Shaped World" on Reprise Cassette. Dolby B
encoded. Sounds fantastic for a non-audiophile cassette and way better
than the CD version I used to own. Chris' voice sounds so real; there
is plenty of extended high frequencies and deep, deep bass. Very
realistic and way recommended by me. This will be part of my
recommended non-audiophile cassettes to be added to my cassette page at
a later day. I also will be adding recommended non-audiophile LPs to my
More on Reel to Reel Tape care
of the best recordings in my collection are Reel to Reel tapes from the
mid 1950's to the 1960’s. These early Reel to Reels are recorded on
Acetate tape which can be hard and brittle I do not fast-forward or
rewind. I leave them in a played condition and I have been quite happy
tape was used in the mid 1970’s to mid 1980’s as it didn’t break like
Acetate tape however unknown at the time it can suffer from Sticky Shed
Syndrome causing squealing which can sometimes be temporarily cured by
"baking". I have a few pre-recorded polyesters as well and have only
had two that squealed both purchased on eBay, one that was as-is and
after baking three times and getting one to two plays before it
squealed again dumped it in the trash. The other was guaranteed and I
returned it for a refund.
Acetate – can be hard and brittle, do not fast forward or rewind and you will be fine.
especially Back-Coated Polyester has been a problem as the tapes often
develop Sticky Shed Syndrome or Loss of Lubricant both can cause
squealing which can sometimes be temporarily cured by "baking". There
is no permanent cure, other than baking and re-recording to another
Mylar – is now the formula of choice it is strong like Acetate will not break so easily or stretch like polyester.
Why MP3 and Digital Downloading threatens real music
the powers that be were not so intent in treating the effect by turning
musical waveforms into 1’s and 0’s instead of treating the cause of
extraneous noise at the source, MP3’s, Internet downloads and all the
other horrors inflicting music would not be possible.
Noise should have been eliminated at the source instead of using the digital cheat by turning our music into 1’s and 0’s to make it quieter. They took the shortcut and treated the effect rather than the cause!
Surface noise on LPs
Most well cared for Vinyl DOES NOT have pops or
ticks, though there is some surface noise. You can learn to listen
around slight surface noise just the same way you are able to listen
around tape hiss.
slight surface noise also has a masking effect on tape hiss making tape
hiss barely noticeable or non-existent. Overall music from the 1950's
and 1960's is quieter on audiophile LPs than on SACDs because of this
Question: What does "Analog is Music, Digital is Mathematics mean?
The mathematics referred to is the Base 2 "binary" system, which if you remember from school is 1's and 0's.
example we use the Base 10 system: 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 for most
everything we do. Computers and Digital use the Base 2 system: 0,1.
The Base 10 "decimal" system compared to the Base 2 "binary" system:
And on and on.
in music captured digitally the numbers stand for musical values as
opposed to music captured by analog methods which are a physical copy
of the musical waveform.
digital samples the waveform before assigning a value, it could be
called statistical as well, as the more samples the higher the
Question: Humans cannot hear above 20kHz so 44.1kHz CD is all we need?
here is all the proof you need! The coldness of Digital increases as
you lower the sampling frequency and bit rate. I find 192kHz PCM to
have almost as much resolution and warmth of the best LPs but it is
still not there. Thanks to Classic Records new HDADs with CD and 200
Gram LP version it is now possible to compare the same release in
192kHz PCM, 96kHz PCM, 44.1kHz and 200 Gram-LP. The 200-Gram LP will
always win in both resolution and realism every single time.
Supersonic frequencies are not heard as SOUND, but processed by our brains including overtones, location and ambient cues.
responds to music signals up to 80kHz. The cilia "the small hairs in
your ears" each vibrate at different frequencies, hearing loss is due
to damage to one or more of these hairs. However we have silica that
vibrate up to 80kHz sending that information to our brains. So you can
have damaged hearing and still process these supersonic musical
This is why live music sounds more well "live" because our ears process this supersonic information.
is the reason SACDs frequency response goes to 100kHz. Not everything
in music is "Heard" as sound, subsonic frequencies cannot be "heard"
either but felt in the bones.
Question: Do you not like CDs because you don’t like high frequencies?
CDs have rolled off high frequencies, it is the upper midrange that is
shrill making violins and other bowed strings instruments sound
strident and very painful. The high frequency percussion instruments
such as cymbals and triangles are very subdued and sound muffled on CD.
All you have to do is put on an excellent LP after listening to CD and
you will hear the highs open up as if someone took a blanket off of
your tweeters. That is because the LP format has not only cleaner
sounding high frequencies but at the higher level and with more
intensity. On LP when someone strikes a cymbal it’s impact is huge and
you can even feel it in your bones, this is impossible for CD to do as
it’s high frequency response is so poor. That is because on CD
everything above 20kHz is sawed off and sharply sawed off at that.
Question: Are you just being picky because SACD and DVD-Audio spoiled you, surely CD doesn’t really make you ill?
did until discovered the Yamaha Natural Sound DVD-Audio/Video SACD
Player DVD-S1700, I can now enjoy the best CDs without pain, however
most CDs are still very painful to endure even on this player which has
taken CD to a sonic level I thought was totally impossible. Most CDs
still have the aggressive biting sound of the violin and other bowed
string instruments, which PCM was able to remove by going to higher
resolution and bit rates.
Question: You haven’t tried enough equipment or spent enough money to pronounce LP as superior to CD.
1) AR-XB with Shure M91ED cartridge
2) Luxman PD-277 with Sonus Blue-Gold cartridge
3) Ariston RD-40 with the Linn Basik arm and the Blue Point Special Cartridge
4) SOTA Comet turntable with the LMTII arm and the Monster Cable Alpha Genesis 1000II moving coil cartridge.
5) Music Hall MMF-1 with LP Gear upgrade.
6) Music Hall MMF-5 turntable with Project arm and Goldring 1012GX cartridge
All players owned that can play CDs:
1) Sony CDP-101
– Before buying my first CD player I collected only Audiophile
Cassettes and I sold my Nakamichi 480 and all 150 of my Audiophile
Cassettes to afford the $900.00 for Sony’s perfect sound forever. I
fell for Sony’s ad hook, line and sinker it had the picture of a
beautiful concert hall and the caption "Perfect Sound Forever" and even
though I didn’t like digitally mastered Cassettes. The magazines were
saying the reason that digitally mastered LPs and Cassettes sounded so
bad was because they were not pure digital and CD would fix that. Big,
big lies from both Sony and the press. I sold the CDP-101 within 6
months as the sound was killing me; the only thing that didn’t sound
absolutely terrible was Telarc CDs. But it was so bad I totally quit
listening and collecting music for over a year!
2) Yamaha (don’t recall model number) – better than the CDP-101 but not by much.
3) Sony LD-210 LaserDisc/CD player–
some LaserDiscs were fantastic especially using the Stereo Analog
tracks. When CD came out LaserDiscs added Digital tracks as well. Older
LaserDiscs were Stereo Analog Sound; newer LaserDiscs had a choice of
Stereo Analog or Stereo Digital 44.1kHz Sound. The Stereo could also be
Dolby Surround. Later Dolby Digital come out and they didn’t have a
place to put the Dolby Digital tracks so the used the right channel of
the Analog Stereo tracks. So any LaserDisc with Dolby Digital only had
MONO for the Analog tracks. That is when I sold my LaserDisc player as
Dolby Digital ruined the format! And as usual CDs sounded terrible on
this player as well.
4) Audio Alchemy Digital Drive Engine transport connected with co-axial cable to the Adcom GDA-700 HDCD D/A converter. Reference Recordings SACDs sounded great on this combo but alas, as usual regular CD didn’t.
5) Sony DVP-S330 DVD Player replaced
the Audio Alchemy when it died prematurely due I believe due to the CD
Blacklight mat. This was my first DVD player I bought it so I could get
the new Classic and Chesky 24 Bit 96kHz DADs. I still didn’t have a TV
so I had to borrow a neighbors to set it up. For the DADs I had to use
the internal 24/86 D/A as the HDCD decoder only decoded 44.1kHz and
48kHz, I continued to use the HDCD for the Reference Recordings HDCDs.
6) Sony DVP-S9000ES SACD/DVD player,
I sold a bunch of LPs to raise the $1,500.00 to pay for it Christmas of
1999. This is the most I ever spent on a single component and I still
feel guilty about it today. SACDs sounded excellent, CDs of course
7) Toshiba SD-9100 DVD-Audio / HDCD player.
$2,000.00 retail I paid $599.95 on clearance when it was discontinued.
This is always the best time to buy and they replace a model and there
are still a lot of the old models floating around. DVD-Audios sounded
excellent, HDCDs sounded very good but there was a loud audible click
between tracks and this annoyed the hell out of me. I sold it, as it
also didn’t sound as good as my Sony SACD player.
8) Xindak SCD-1 tubed SACD player which
upsamples CD to 24/96 actually makes CDs almost acceptable with almost
no pain but they are still boring. Also with this machine SACDs from
Analog or DSD masters sound almost as good as LPs. It quit reading
hybrid SACDs for the third time and was out of warranty so I sold it as
a tubed CD player that could play CDs and single layer SACDs but not
9) Toshiba SD-5700 – DVD-Audio / HDCD player.
$550.00 retail I paid $109.00 used. DVD-Audios sounded even better than
on the SD-9100 but they had slightly less bass but the highs were much
smoother. Also HDCDs did not click between tracks. CDs still sounded
terrible. I still have this deck for my few remaining DVD-Audios and
HDCDs I play when I am lazy. I do have the ability to play CDs, I just
do not wish to torture myself.
10) Yamaha Natural Sound DVD-Audio/Video SACD Player DVD-S1700. My
current universal player the best CDs such are Telarc as quite
listenable and very enjoyable, but even playing SACD still not up the
Analogs high sonic standards.