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Subjective / Objective , Philosophy of Science

I just made an account here. First post. I'm a 26 year old musician/producer/mixer. I started taking interest in audiophile questions about two years ago, stemming from a quest for dead-accurate monitoring. I've been all over the audio internet, and I've heard a good deal of systems in person. Audiophile and pro, analog and digital, cheap and expensive. It's funny how the audiophile world and the pro world don't really like to mix, even when they're taking interest in the same questions.   One of my favorite audiophile writers is Herb Reichert, because he's obsessed with sound that is -direct- and -naked-. Corporeal and palpable. "In the room" explicit. He is allergic to sheen or gloss. His writing asserts that there must still be technological aspects essential to convincing playback that we haven't yet learned to measure, since systems with textbook A+ measurements can still lack this elusive naked quality. Herb prizes this directness over perfect frequency response, dynamic response, or resolution. For him, it is its own parameter with its own merit, and its origin and relation to the others remains mysterious, though he is constantly investigating. Systems that check other boxes, but lack this essential quality, are for Herb false and deceptive, since they offer everything but the soul of the music.   Now of course, there are many in the audio world who feel this way, or who perhaps feel similarly about some other quality they've discerned. Most people call them "subjectivists". To me...it seems like they're misunderstood. Their general claim is simply: we haven't learned to measure everything that's important, so one has to keep an open mind and seek undiscovered correlations. We hear differences outside of what is reflected in the measurements.   Philosophically speaking, any measurement that reliably correlates to reality, ever made, in any science, was initially correlated to the human subjective senses, or rests on proofs, which ultimately rest on correlations to our naked senses. The most basic proof for 1+1=2 is that you can pick up one twig, pick up another, and there, you have two twigs in your hand. The subjective layer is the FIRST data layer. You always view numbers on pages THROUGH this layer, and interpret them through mental proofs BASED on it. All accepted science is based on subjective impressions our ancestors agreed on.   Even the number one is based on subjective experience. The experience of a whole. The experience that an object can be separate from it's environment in the first place. The experience that a pebble is a separate thing from the air or water around it, and that it has a high enough degree of self-consistency to be given a name at all.   It seems wildly arrogant to assert "we're at the end of audio science" the way "objectivists" do. What if we aren't? In the past, whenever we thought we were, in any field, were we? No. It's not an intelligent position to take, as far as I'm concerned. Staunch objectivists make a wager: "I bet our theories are perfect." Does that seem like a good bet?   The measurements obsession, in my view, and the philosophy it begets, becomes a kind of fascism that grows in the mind. One ends up losing trust for one's sensory impressions, and dogmatizing the impressions of others. OBVIOUSLY blind tests are better. Obviously people's minds can trick them. Obviously measurements are useful. But the fact is, with self-awareness and curious self-skepticism, one can improve one's recognition of sound, in incredibly various ways. We aren't aware of the limits. There are hearing masters who slay blind tests. Charles Hansen posted about a man he knew who could reliably make insane calls blind, including about gear riser materials, etc.   In science, data has to be critically interpreted, and fit into hypotheses and theories. Data is also reinterpreted. Endlessly. It always should be. Hypotheses are recrafted and retested. Ultimately, the human is the master of science, not the tool. People seem to be forgetting this...and it honestly creeps me out.   One of the most magic parts of life is that you can actually improve ALL of your senses. And you can have a critical, evolving relationship with how you interpret them. It's amazing. You don't need to be a measurement machine's bitch, or a slave to whatever theories are in hegemony. You get to develop your own experience and your own ideas. You can actually plumb the depths of human sense down paths no one has gone before. And you can craft interpretations which are entirely new. Forever.   We ought to hammer this out more so we don't lose more folks to the personless, non-critical void.

Tatl

Tatl

 

NICKY HOPKINS

Nicky Hopkins (1944-1994) was one of the best keyboard artists of the classic rock era.   He passed at only 50 years of age, much too early.  He worked with the Kinks, The Rolling Stones, The Who and many other groups.   Listen to Sympathy for the Devil on the Beggars Banquet album and you will know what I mean.   Maybe the best rock piano track ever.   Thanks Nick.

NOMBEDES

NOMBEDES

 

The Songs Remain the Same (Only Better)

The Songs Remain the Same Only Better (previously published at blog.talkofthemountain.com)   Over the last couple of years I converted my compact disc collection to digital files. This allows me to enjoy the music in whatever venue I happen to occupy: car, living room, basement lair (aka the "country bunker"), MARC commuter train, interplanetary shuttle or molecular transport. No need to lug the discs and player with me and through the magic of miniaturization I simply plug a AudioQuest Dragonfly Red DAC (digital-analog converter) into the lightning connector on an iPad. Said iPad reads the files from a terabyte-sized storage device and to the headphones via the DAC which happens to include a headphone amp.

Apple has presented a bit of a hurdle in connecting high capacity storage to their portable devices. You cannot just plug something in. In this case a tiny RAVPower FileHub connected to a 1TB external storage device is wirelessly sending files via a built-in wi-fi. Does one terabyte seem like overkill? Au contraire, so far my music collection consumes over 250GB. To date this does not include video but someday ...

Once down the path of hosting a file-based music collection, purely digital distribution attracted my oft fleeting attention. These days my favorite purveyor is HDTracks who has become one of if not the largest seller of digital music files. My travel system is optimized for 24 bit/96kHz and the remastered version of the Beatles "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club" album presents an incredibly clear sound at this bit depth and resolution. At this point let me say that not all recordings will present in an improved fashion in uncompressed format(s). Something that was heavily manipulated, compressed during recording, mixing or mastering, or otherwise adulterated may not offer a perceptible sonic improvement at 24 bit/96kHz (or for that matter anything over the lowly CD's 16 bit/44.1kHz) and occasionally one may even prefer the MP3 rip. YMMV but modern recordings and remasters from quality source material including HDTracks cofounder David Chesky's Binaural+ Series do quite well in the upper stratosphere of lossless file containment.

Of course after I had "ripped" all the discs to digital files using MP3 encoding, the benefits of a lossless format became obvious as my audio playback chain improved. Nothing wrong with MP3 when listening in a noisy environment but with KEF headphones running through the Dragonfly, baby wants, even needs lossless compression. So a second pass was made of digitizing the CDs using the dBPoweramp CD Ripper and saving to the Apple ALAC file format. In the no-good-deed-goes-unpunished department, I now wish I had used the open-source FLAC format but hey, who's to say I won't re-re-rip all those discs?

Chip Gallo

Chip Gallo

 

KIETH RIEF

Relf was 33 when he died from electrocution, in the basement of his home, while playing his improperly earthed (electrically grounded) guitar. Relf had dealt with several health issues throughout his life, including emphysema and asthma, which may have contributed to his inability to survive the electric shock.   If you have ever heard the Yardbirds version of (H. Wolf's) "Smokestack Lightning" Kieth did the harmonica solo.  Maybe the best harmonic solo ever.     Thanks Mr. Rief    

NOMBEDES

NOMBEDES

 

Good reading material

People have asked how I go about sorting out systems - and find my answers very unsatisfactory. Well, I have come across a book which very nicely addresses some of the key areas where I find a lot of the issues arise - and gives a lot of suggestions of very, Gasp!!, technical gear that can be used to chase these things down. It's a very practical book, minimum high falutin', equations for equations sake guff - what I find especially endearing is that there are a lot of cheap and cheerful tricks and tips offered; these are what I would instinctively go for  ...   The book? https://www.amazon.com/Troubleshooting-Cookbook-Product-Designers-Electromagnetics/dp/1613530196

fas42

fas42

 

Eamonn Flynn / Special Event 45 - Yeah You Right / Blue Coast Records

Links to listen and purchase: https://bluecoastmusic.com/eamonn-flynn/special-event-45-yeah-you-right   Album Title:  Special Event 45 - Yeah You Right Artist:  Eamonn Flynn Label:  Blue Coast Records Provenance: Recorded in DSD256 and mixed on analog console to DSD256   This post: “okay... the big question... who out there is ready to record live and in the studio direct to DSD? No fixes, no overdubs, no headphones... JUST LIVE” popped up in my Facebook feed. It was posted by Cookie Marenco an audio engineer who owns a studio and record label in Belmont, California just south of San Francisco. I’d recorded with Cookie before, producing and playing keyboards on two albums at her studio and I remembered her working some deep, warm sounding audio magic behind the desk. I knew she was fanatical about capturing great sound and great performances. I knew it was always a great and hilarious hang with her and Patrick her main engineer. I remembered the view from the hills of Belmont looking over Silicon Valley from behind her studio and one time seeing a family of deers come up to check out the music or more likely eat some of her plants. Within two minutes I had responded: ”I nominate ... ME”. Two days later I was situated behind her Steinway grand piano getting ready to lay down eight of my new songs, one after the other, recording direct to DSD. I have always been a session and touring piano and keyboard player, supporting other people’s music. But a year ago I finally stepped out in front and recorded an album of my own songs and put a band together to play them live. The album was called ‘The Irish Channel’ and it was an amalgamation of my years playing both American and Irish music. People seemed to respond to it very well and I was having a ball in my new role as a ‘frontman’ so I’d written a new bunch of songs for a follow up album. I sat up the night before the session furiously finishing those last few elusive lyrics.   https://bluecoastmusic.com/eamonn-flynn/special-event-45-yeah-you-right

Blue Coast Music

Blue Coast Music

 

Now Playing...

So...I see 20th Anniversary Edition; and I'm like "no way, is I Should Coco...20 years old"! ?   It's not; the 20th Anniversary Edition...came out 3 years ago, lol.  

1s&0s

1s&0s

 

The Driftless / Long For The Dory / The Driftless

Links to listen and purchase: https://bluecoastmusic.com/the-driftless/long-for-the-dory   Album Title:  Long For The Dory  Artist:  The Driftless Label:  The Driftless Provenance: Recorded to 2" analog tape and mixed through analog console to DSD64.   Beautiful folk americana songs. Abundant in well thought out lyrics layed over spacey melodic grooves. The Driftless returns with a well put together album.   https://bluecoastmusic.com/the-driftless/long-for-the-dory

Blue Coast Music

Blue Coast Music

 

Jenna Mammina & John R. Burr / Special Event 10 / Blue Coast Records

Links to listen and purchase: https://bluecoastmusic.com/jenna-mammina-john-r-burr/special-event-10   Album Title:  Special Event 10  Artist:  Jenna Mammina & John R. Burr Label:  Blue Coast Records     Jenna Mammina and John R. Burr came to Blue Coast Studios to perform duets for Blue Coast Special Event 10. Delicate and bright, Jenna's voice is contrasted by John's skillful piano accompaniment. The fullness and depth of these recordings will captivate any listener. Blue Coast Special Event 10 was recorded with no headphones, overdubs or edits. The only thing you will hear is the pure talent and chemistry of Jenna and John.   https://bluecoastmusic.com/jenna-mammina-john-r-burr/special-event-10

Blue Coast Music

Blue Coast Music

 

San Francisco Symphony / Mahler Symphony No. 6 / SFS Media

Links to listen and purchase: https://bluecoastmusic.com/san-francisco-symphony/mahler-symphony-no-6   Album Title:  Mahler Symphony No. 6 Artist:  San Francisco Symphony Label:  SFS Media Provenance:  Originally Recorded in DSD 2.8MHz.   Mahler Symphony No. 6 in A Minor Composers before Mahler had been great and expressive communicators, but no one is less guarded than he in his emotions and in the intensity of what he asks us to experience with him. His Sixth Symphony is a work of enormous exploration, of testing musical limits. Here Mahler has pushed his technical abilities as a composer and his perceptual boundaries as a human being. His first audiences were shocked and frightened by this new kind of soul-baring music. He himself was so unnerved by what he had done in his Sixth that he was in tears at the first rehearsals. The Sixth looks unflinchingly at the obsessive, destructive nature of man, the unremitting capacity of humankind to hurt itself. In its final pages, it regards destiny and realizes there will be no mercy. But there is more than despair in these pages. There is utter honesty, humor, tenderness, and, in the third movement, homage to the power of love. Mahler said that a symphony should mirror life. His entire symphonic output is a testament to that belief, and nowhere did he realize this credo so powerfully as in his Sixth Symphony. In listening to the frenzy and sorrow of this music, it is difficult to grasp how someone experiencing these feelings could write them down. Mahler himself doubted that he could compose this and maintain his sanity. But the Sixth is an extraordinary example of his desire to communicate, his need to tell others that they were not alone in experiencing the existential terror that has so sadly become a part of modern life. The need to communicate was, ultimately, what brought him through the process of composition, and what enabled him to write this Herculean piece. It is his faith and commitment to the comforting and transforming power of music that has inspired us in giving this performance and that we hope will be felt by our listeners. —Michael Tilson Thomas, from liner notes   https://bluecoastmusic.com/san-francisco-symphony/mahler-symphony-no-6

Blue Coast Music

Blue Coast Music

 

Joshua Lowe & the Juncos / At the Feet of Old Bristlecone / Joshua Lowe

Links to listen and purchase: https://bluecoastmusic.com/joshua-lowe-the-juncos/at-the-feet-of-old-bristlecone   Album Title:  At the Feet of Old Bristlecone Artist:  Joshua Lowe & the Juncos Label:  Joshua Lowe Provenance:  Recorded to 2" analog tape and mixed through analog console to DSD64.   The Juncos is a tight knit trio of acoustic charged roots music. Americana in the truest sense, The Juncos mix together a slew of styles ranging from folk, alt-country, jugband, bluegrass, and old-timey. Their live performances are high energy acoustic explosions of screaming violin solos, three part harmonies, and foot stomping fun. Joshua Lowe (lead singer and songwriter) writes songs with one foot in the American roots past with songs about down and out drunkards, sick of love ramblers, and snow bound ghosts.   This session was recorded live in the studio directly to 2" analog tape without the use of headphones (except for a few overdubs). This style of recording lends itself to a more musical interaction and results in emotionally charged performances combined with superb sonics. Dynamic Mastering is a proprietary mastering technique developed by Cookie Marenco and was used for this project. It uses no compression to create the CD master. The listener may want to TURN UP THE VOLUME to enjoy this record and to hear the full dynamic range without distortion.   https://bluecoastmusic.com/joshua-lowe-the-juncos/at-the-feet-of-old-bristlecone  

Blue Coast Music

Blue Coast Music

 

Julian Müller / Special Event 32 / Blue Coast Records

Links to listen and purchase: https://bluecoastmusic.com/julian-muller/special-event-32   Album Title:  Special Event 32 Artist:  Julian Müller Label:  Blue Coast Records Provenance:  Recorded in DSD64 and mixed through analog console to DSD128   You all need to experience Julian Müller, one of Blue Coast’s newest singer songwriter finds! Think of him as a ‘male Norah Jones’ (If you liked Quiles and Cloud, you'll love Julian Müller, in fact some may remember him singing backups for them). We call this style of music "Acoustipop" -- intimate and contemporary, performed live without overdubs. Check out ‘Little Bird’ and have a handkerchief close by to wipe your tears. These songs will remind you of love lost and love found.   This kind of recording reveals total musicianship. It was recorded in E.S.E. (Extended Sound Environment) and accompanied by Maria Quiles and Rory Cloud.   https://bluecoastmusic.com/julian-muller/special-event-32

Blue Coast Music

Blue Coast Music

 

Christian McBride / Out Here / Mack Avenue

Links to listen and purchase: https://bluecoastmusic.com/christian-mcbride/out-here   Album Title:  Out Here Artist:  Christian McBride Label:  Mack Avenue Provenance:  Recorded and Mixed to 96kHz, 24-bit WAV PCM.   When he hit the jazz scene like a comet at age 17, McBride’s huge, woodsy sound and precocious agility invited comparisons to the legendary bassist Ray Brown. The late jazz bassist was not only renowned for performing on classic jazz dates with modern greats from the 1940s onward, but also for his central role in trios led by Oscar Peterson as well as his own stellar trio ensembles afterward. Once McBride recorded with Brown as a member of the early ’90s group Superbass, the association was bound to stick. He loved Brown as a mentor and father figure, but avoided leading a trio because of the inevitable comparisons.   Helming a trio was the furthest thing from McBride’s mind—until an Inside Straight appearance in 2009 became a trio date due of the absence of saxophonist Steve Wilson and vibraphonist Warren Wolf. But instead of calling for replacements for two members of Inside Straight, he opted for expedience and played the gig with pianist Peter Martin and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr.   Out Here is McBride’s 11th recording as a leader. Since the early 1990s he has recorded on over 300 dates as a sideman. Aside from relatively recent travels with Pat Metheny; Chick Corea, Roy Haynes, John McLaughlin and Kenny Garrett; the Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour – 55th Anniversary; and residencies and artistic leadership roles with organizations ranging from New York’s 92nd St. Y and Jazz House Kids to NJPAC, McBride has toured consistently for several years with his own quintet, Inside Straight. He also fronts the Christian McBride Big Band, whose Mack Avenue recording, The Good Feeling, won the GRAMMY® Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album in 2012—his third GRAMMY win overall.   https://bluecoastmusic.com/christian-mcbride/out-here

Blue Coast Music

Blue Coast Music

 

San Francisco Symphony / Masterpieces in Miniature / SFS Media

Links to listen and purchase: https://bluecoastmusic.com/san-francisco-symphony/masterpieces-in-miniature   Album Title:  Masterpieces in Miniature  Artist:  San Francisco Symphony Label:  SFS Media Provenance:  Recorded and Mixed to 192kHz, 24-bit WAV PCM, except for Trk.6 The Alcotts from A Concord Symphony, recorded to 96kHz, 24-bit WAV PCM.   My earliest musical memories go back to my parents’ home. They lived in a small ranch-style house surrounded by orange groves and cactus in the then very rural San Fernando Valley. Music was an important part of their lives, and they had a collection of 78RPM records that embraced Bach, Brahms, Britten, Broadway, Villa-Lobos, Sibelius, and Stravinsky.   They both played piano. We had a vintage Steinway upright with a rosewood case. My mother played carefully, following the notes in her volumes of Mozart and Grieg. My father, who barely read music, could play anything by ear. All he had to do was hear something once and he’d do a pretty reasonable rendition of it, with occasional outtakes to his basic Yiddish Tin Pan Alley style.   One musical source my parents had in common was a big red book that lived on the piano. It was a collection of short pieces called something like Music the Whole World Loves to Play. The book contained pieces like Grieg’s The Last Spring, Cui’s Orientale, Schumann’s Happy Farmer, Liszt’s Liebestraum, Sibelius’s Valse triste, and Beethoven’s Für Elise. I had my own little book called something like Miniatures of the Masters. The wonderful tunes in these books were often being played by one or another of us as people were cooking, reading, or just being at home.   As my musical education continued, I began to encounter these pieces, and many others like them, played as encores by the great musicians whose recitals my parents and I attended. These pieces made unforgettable impressions when played by masters like Heifetz, Piatigorsky, Rubinstein, or Arrau. It was electrifying to hear and see Rubinstein play Falla’s Fire Dance, his hands flying up from the keyboard, or Heifetz playing Sinding’s Suite so rapidly that his bow became a blur.   But perhaps even more memorable were the quiet and tender pieces they played, like Debussy’s Rêverie. These pieces were haunting, unforgettable. They seemed to explore the realms of vanished emotions, like wistfulness. They seemed like elusive and charming recollections of long ago. Under the hands of the masters, they possessed a profound simplicity.   Later I had the opportunity to discover just how seriously artists like Rubinstein and Heifetz regarded the playing of these pieces. In a master class they could devote as much time to them as to a whole movement of a famous sonata. They were aware of every gesture, every color, every little hesitation—and of finding a way to make this all seem spontaneous. I drank it in.   https://bluecoastmusic.com/san-francisco-symphony/masterpieces-in-miniature

Blue Coast Music

Blue Coast Music

 

Suzie Daines / Like A Hummingbird Flies / Suzie Daines

Links to listen and purchase: https://bluecoastmusic.com/suzie-daines/hummingbird   Album Title:  Like A Hummingbird Flies Artist:  Suzie Daines  Label:  Suzie Daines Provenance:  Recorded in DSD256 and mixed through analog console to DSD256   Special Mother's Day single release by Suzie Daines.   https://bluecoastmusic.com/suzie-daines/hummingbird

Blue Coast Music

Blue Coast Music

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