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Posts posted by JoshM

  1. 7 minutes ago, opus101 said:


    If you ask them for a falsifiable definition of 'properly engineered' you'll never get one. Sometimes 'competently' is used instead of 'properly' but the intent is the same. A more nuanced mantra is 'All competently engineered DACs sound identical under level matched, double blind conditions'.


    Moreover, when someone demonstrates they can hear differences under those stringent conditions, it’s offhandedly dismissed as flawed or otherwise impossible. It’s circular reasoning. 

  2. 14 minutes ago, asdf1000 said:


    No caveats?


    So nobody should target lower distortion measurements then?




    To be honest, I think that’s a paradox of the forum in question. The mantra there is that all “properly engineered” DACs sound alike, and the common refrain in threads is not to bother spending more than whatever the latest budget Topping DAC costs unless you want other features, etc., because the difference won’t be audible. Given that, it’s not clear why they keep measuring DACs. 


    (Going back to my previous post, it’s stuff like this that gives me...pause.)

  3. On 9/2/2019 at 5:24 PM, pkane2001 said:


    Haven't seen AB's USB measurements. Mine was just to compare a Lush^2 to a generic USB cable. First post here, some follow-ups in the posts below it:



    Comparison of a few balanced interconnects:





    Cool. Thank you for sharing. Here’s Bob’s post:


  4. 3 hours ago, pkane2001 said:


    Fair enough. I don’t always agree with everything posted on ASR. You can see my own measurements there of interconnects and USB cables both showing some differences, despite the common belief there that these don’t matter. 


    THD figure by itself is meaningless, but the actual distortion plot over audible range is very useful, IMHO. Just like a single jitter value is meaningless, while a phase error plot over audible frequencies can be very revealing.


    Do you have a link to your measurements? Very interested to see. I was fascinated by some of Atomic Bob's USB cable measurements. 

  5. On 8/21/2019 at 5:21 PM, DavidM1108 said:

    Great article. I will say that through my cloth ears, and my Vivid Giya 3/Ayre MX 20s/MSB Platinum DAC/Innuous Statement server -- the HD Tracks download is richer, fuller, more detailed than the Gastwirt CD... my completely unscientific back to back plays always ended with me preferring the download?? Hmm...


    While I don’t think the download is the best version, its overall sound signature is pretty good. It’s just more compressed than the Gastwirt, and I think the transfer isn’t as good as Gastwirt’s, despite the improvement in ADC tech.


    That said, any increased compression can create the impression of fullness and more detail, since otherwise quiet sounds are raised in volume relative to the loud sounds. 

  6. 20 hours ago, TubeLover said:

    Well, thus far, you've been right in my wheelhouse, for the most part, since Hounds of Love, So, Surrealistic Pillow and the Crosby Stills and Nash debut album are all in my twenty five best rock era albums ever, and Aja isn't far behind. 


    Things that immediately come to mind are Close To The Edge, by Yes, Electric Ladyland by Hendrix, Who's Next, and The Moody Blues, "Days of The Future Passed. I'll admit that your plans for Joni Mitchell's Blue have me very interested too. 





    On 8/8/2019 at 1:51 PM, firedog said:


    Derek and the Dominos - Layla. I think it will fit your criteria.


    Layla is on my list, as are albums from Yes, Hendrix, and The Who. Close to the Edge is in the lead for Yes, and I’ve already done some preliminary stuff (ordering books and CDs) moving in that direction. For The Who, I’m torn between Who’s Next, which is more iconic, and Quadrophenia, which is my personal favorite. The Hendrix decision will be hard, too. 

  7. 12 hours ago, TubeLover said:



    Another absolutely superb article. Thank you again for this superlative continuing series. Your taste as to which albums to write about is equally matchless. Each one has been one of what I consider to be amongst the finest achievements of their era, and all of rock history.




    Thank you! I’m always looking for suggestions, too, if you have ideas. I have a very long master list that I work from, and I’m happy to add albums to it if they’re not already on there. 


    I usually start research two or so columns ahead of time. Right now, I think Electric Warrior is next. Innervisions likely will follow that. But Wish You Were Here and Blue are also in various stages of research. 


    I try to aim for albums that are classic, have interesting production stories, and have enough digital masterings to keep things interesting on the analysis front. (Unfortunately a lot of albums I’d love to write about fail the last category.)

  8. 6 hours ago, DuckToller said:

    Thank you Josh,

    another chapter to a masterful book I will definately buy in the future, even if it's just to inherit it together with my music archive to my sons (and, eventually, then existing grandkids).
    "A must have/read guide to the important music recordings of the 20th and 21st. century"  I will note for them! "You'll find the best version in the archive. Trust him!!!"

    All the best from France,


    Thanks so much! It’s so nice to know the TBVOs are appreciated. 

  9. By the way, I just updated the article to fix the footnotes and change the location of the tape box photo. (I sent Chris the wrong edit!)


    The new footnote I added mentions that there's also a digital (in my belief) glitch on the Hoffman CD, which is another mark against it in my book, even if it's far from the deciding factor. (The Gastwirt is better on many more fronts, as I hope the article makes clear.)


    One other thing I didn't mention is that the Grundman CD cuts out Crosby's ad-lib from "Come On in My Kitchen" before "49 Bye-Byes" for some odd reason. The Grundman CD was down far enough in my rankings that it didn't seem worth mentioning as another negative, though. 

  10. 2 hours ago, bobflood said:

    Incredible article Josh!


    It took me back to the summer of '69 when I was a directionless 19 year old college drop out. I had just enlisted in the USAF hoping to stay out of Vietnam (worked). This was a tough time and this brought back many memories, some good and others not so good. The thing that strikes me the most is just how much of a mess my generation was, but looking around now it is painful to see how precious little has changed.


    I had the vinyl album and several of the CD versions but I can no longer listen to the music of my youth without some sadness so I just don't do it. That was then and this is now as the saying goes. I found my direction in life after leaving the service and left that era behind although one can never truly leave it totally behind. My worst fear then is that I would not live to see 21 but here I am on the cusp of 70 and happy so it did all work out for me. I still mourn for all those of my generation who needlessly perished.


    Thanks for the trip down memory lane and keep up this great series.


    Bob Flood


    Bob, Wow! Thank you for the wonderful, heartfelt reflection. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. I'm very glad you're here on the cusp on 70, too!

  11. 2 hours ago, ray-dude said:


    Rajiv, searching on Tidal (via Roon) for Joe Gastwirt, they have one version of this album attributed to him as engineer (10 tracks, etc)  I can't confirm that is the version that Josh heard, but it looks promising.


    I believe that's the Grundman version without bonus tracks. (There are a few later Japan CDs that are the Grundman without bonus tracks, too. I made the mistake of paying big bucks for one. Fortunately the Ebay seller was willing to take the return!)

  12. 6 hours ago, firedog said:

    Discogs seems to have the same version of the album available for much less. Hopefully Josh can tell us which ones are the Gastwirt version. 


    5 hours ago, MikeyFresh said:


    The date 2006 and Rhino label are a dead giveaway on the Grundman version, as well as the presence of Bonus Tracks #11-14. It was also an HDCD if I'm not mistaken.


    The Atlantic label version (1993 gold disc Gastwirt mastering) that was then released as an aluminum CD in 1994 will only have 10 tracks, the original album line-up, no bonus tracks, not an HDCD, not Rhino.



    Thats a good question.


    3 hours ago, Ralf11 said:


    So anything prior to 1993 cannot be the Gastwirt mastering ??


    2 hours ago, MikeyFresh said:


    Correct, older than 1993 is the Diament mastering, with the possible exception of the original 1987 Japanese CD release of this title (credited to Bernie Grundman and Stanley Johnston).


    There are non-gold Gastwirt versions available for less than $10. They will all have his mastering credit on the back, below the track list. Nothing before 1993 will be his mastering.


    A Hoffman forum member was supposed to mail me his '87 Japan CD to test. I haven't received it yet, though. I've read claims that it's the Diament CD, and that makes the most sense. The Grundman/Johnston credit on Discogs is probably incorrect, since one Gastwirt Japan CD is given the same erroneous credit on Discogs.

  13. 9 hours ago, firedog said:

    Really interesting. Didn't realize they had done much of it in one take. Impressive. 

    Looking for the Gastwirt version, as that's the one of the five I don't have; it's numbered 82522-2.


    The next year I see they came out with 82651-2: is that the same mastering?


    1 hour ago, MikeyFresh said:


    Looking more carefully at the Discogs listing for this release, it does appear to be the Gastwirt mastering, the Credits and Notes list him, as well as Ocean View Digital as the mastering studio.




    Yes, all of the Gastwirt masterings (gold or silver) should have his credit on the back.

  14. On 7/30/2019 at 9:56 AM, John Dyson said:

    Dear Hornet's nest:


    The left over DolbyA imprint just struck again yesterday:  I just ran into the 6th or more (not 100% sure) premium download album that didn't sound quite right.  These are apparently still 'noise reduction' encoded.


    Note before reading further:  I am not criticising anyone in particular, and definitely not codemning the people doing the mastering/remastering/etc, a lot of the time there are documentation problems and other complications that make their jobs a little tricky -- I am only commenting on the state of affairs, and the problem of not-so-good material reaching the consumer. I generally do not include proper NR decoding as a part of mastering, because it *should* be a part of the normal process to prepare for the consumer -- mastering should be considered the extra steps done to make the recording better/cleaner/etc for the consumer. (Mastering might include massaging the material to fit better on vinyl, for example.)


    This observation has happened on numerous pieces premium 'material', 192/24 or 96/24...   I have 3/Simon&Garfunkel 192/24, Roberta Flack 192/24, Carpenters 96/24, PaulMc 96/24 and maybe a few others -- this is enough of a set of examples.  It seems likely that the 'quality' problem is still a left-over DolbyA-like imprint on these recordings.  The most ugly thing isn't the HF compression per-se, but the thin (compressed depth) stereo space left on these recordings.   *This quality experience/difference is difficult to describe, and is best experienced Suffice to say, I am NO golden ears, but can clearly hear the difference/improvement of proper handling of recordings.


    These more egregious examples are mostly from well-known pay-for-download sites ( the download sites are not especially at fault -- they are selling what is available to them.  The distribution
    is the problem.)  The problem doesn't come from any one seller -- I have some old CDs from eons ago also with the left-over imprint.  Of course, we don't expect the old CDs to be perfect, but it would be nice.  However, with proper re-EQ, and decoding, many CDs can be incredibly improved.


    This last Roberta Flack example was a bit of a 'oh, my' kind of moment.  Luckily, I did borrow a song from a friend (I already had the normal CD) so I could determine if I wanted the 'pristine' copy.  I guess I can say -- no bother about getting the 'premium' album, that is unless I need to hear the above 20kHz noise/other artifacts on the album.  Unfortunately there appears also a DolbyA encoding imprint on the 'premium' album, but seems to have been further damaged by some compression.  So, this 'premium' album is even less useful to me than the old CD -- at least, I can clean-up the CD.


    Why do I notice this FRUSTRATING problem?  I am in a almost unique position that I can actually diagnose the problem, and can resolve it - not so much at the consumer level, however.  The software to 'detect'/'correct' the problem is not a simple thing to do, and is definitely not a weekend project.  Using the decoding software is NOT for the consumer either -- we need to advocate for more complete digital preparation before we are sent the digital copies.  So, after these 30yrs of digital distributions, I am finding that many of them from over the years are 'just not right'.  Very often, the material appears to be DolbyA encoded.  Recordings are STILL being distributed not 'quite right' even nowadays.


    With all of the discussion over the years about mp3, opus, 16bit PCM vs 24bit PCM, 192/96 vs 44.1k, etc... to me, knowing what I have learned in the last 3-4yrs, it appears that they are all diversions, because only the slower lossy compression are more important than the 'damage' from non-NR-decoded material reaching the consumer.  (choice between properly mastered 192kmp3 vs. undecoded 192/24, I'll take the mp3 quality anyday.)  I am NOT advocating for mp3 though -- just that the un decoded material sounds worse.


    I almost blew a 'gasket' with this last album (Roberta Flack, 2012 remaster.)  When purchasing/downloading a 'premium' album, I'd expect that the material wasproperly prepared for the consumer -- but it seems like a lot of material is just not properly handled.  I do have some premium albums (Nat King Cole, for example) which also APPEAR to also have the residual DolbyA imprint, but cannot prove it, even for myself.


    Given the fact about MQA causing such an uproar (In my opinion ONLY, I still believe that the worst thing about MQA is the obfuscation/complication and possible DRM), I wonder why this missing-mastering-step travesty hasn't caused a riot!?!?!? :-).  Is the thin stereo space, compressed high end material actually good enough?  If that is good enough, then why worry about needing more quality than mp3 at 128k? (rhetorical.)


    PS: I am only pushing for the distribution chain to do the right thing and properly master the material -- no need to get attention by hypercompressing conventional releases, just do the basic
    preparation correctly!!!   Every user cannot practically do their own mastering (or re-mastering), it is the job of the distributors with the actual master tape copies to finish the job!!!





    Hi John, can you list some of the specific albums (the S&G and Flack albums, etc.) as well as any others you’ve noticed? It would be great if this thread could try to compile a list to vet. 


    It definitely does seem that the noise reduction info on many albums gets lost or ignored over time. Famously, there was/is a huge debate about whether Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life is Dolby encoded or not.

  15. 3 hours ago, PAR said:

    Very good review. The measurements are particularly appreciated by me.  My only wish is that the musical examples used for the subjective assessment could have involved more than a single genre.  As my listening is mainly to classical music, finding 'phones that are good for this is difficult as these days so many have a sound tailored to appeal predominantly to rock/pop enthusiasts.


    My audio project for 2020 will be a new pair of cans to replace my ancient pair of HD600s. Coincidentally all of my small list of contenders feature in this review. However I suspect that when I come to audition them that the 10 dB depression from 3kHz  - 10kHz may make the Ether 2s too dull for my particular needs.


    I’m pretty sure @austinpop has said this, but for classical, I’d go for the HD800S. I don’t think the Ether 2 are the best fit for a genre where sound stage width and string articulation are paramount. 


  16. On 6/23/2019 at 1:02 PM, Jud said:


    Very interesting. Anyone on the thread tried and succeeded?


    Hmmm... This might explain why the hack didn't work on my new Mac Mini. I'd successfully done the hack several times each on two previous Macs and had no issues. 

  17. 7 hours ago, firedog said:

    Cool, I have several digital versions of this and the original vinyl. 
    My original exposure to it was on an 8 track tape in the car of a friends older brother. It was basically the only thing he played anytime he drove us anywhere. I think I heard it hundreds of times that way....And I still like it. 

    I'm sort of assuming you won't be including that 8 Track version in your  survey. :)


    Believe it or not, I have fond memories of listening to it on an old 8 Track in my parents’ basement (usually while pretending to be Ghostbusters with my best friend) when I was a kid. Sadly, my audio memory isn’t quite that long in terms of a mastering comparison! 

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