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Posts posted by JoshM

  1. On 9/18/2019 at 1:53 AM, TubeLover said:

    Josh, just thought of another famous favorite album of mine, with many, many incarnations. The sound can be brilliant in some cases. This is one I am sure many people would love to read an article from regarding the best version of:


    Dire Straits Brothers In Arms 





    That's absolutely on my list. The varying track lengths are a big question mark with it, too. 

  2. On 1/21/2020 at 5:30 PM, copy_of_a said:


    what a great piece! Your TBVO-essays are by far the most valuable content on this site. Period.

    Not saying all the rest is not worth reading - not at all! - but your articles stand out big time!


    I have to admit - as far as "Songs from the Big Chair" goes - I really like the Steven Wilson Remixes most.

    I know they are entirely new mixes and are not really related to the original artists intention of the album, only to Steven Wilsons creative "vision" of the album, which is a pretty "modern" or contemporary take on mixing, sound and timbre.

    However, his remixes sound thick, bold, majestic ... and above all: timeless. And touching.

    (I also have to admit I give a sh** on the so called artists intention as we really never will be able to understand what it really is ... unless we were present while the album has been produced in the respective studio).


    Thanks a lot for the great articles!



    Thank you for the kind words!

  3. 5 hours ago, tmtomh said:

    Another fantastic comparison by @JoshM - thank you! Your reviews exemplify the best (IMHO) aspects of subjective and objective listening tests. The DR Meter, R128/crest, and EQ plots are there for those of us who value them - and the subjective impressions are specific, including specific moments and instruments in specific songs, so others can listen for the same things and judge for themselves.


    As always (at least so far), I agree with Josh's appraisal RE Songs from the Big Chair (haven't had a chance to re-listen to The Hurting yet).


    The 2006 I'd never even entertained for the reasons Josh notes. As for the 2014 30th Anniversary Blu-Ray/deluxe version, I hadn't listened to it for about 4 years and when I put it on just now, I immediately heard the leftward shift in the soundstage - yuk! (Correctable in software or with a balance control of course, but why bother, especially since it doesn't sound better than the other versions?)


    That left the original 1985 mastering and the 2014 flat transfer - and if anything, I would say Josh has understated the difference. Yes, the EQ and overall sonic signature is quite similar; but to my ears the 2014 flat transfer sounds quite a bit clearer with better detail retrieval - and unless I was hearing things, the soundstage seems slightly wider as well (perhaps owing to the increased precision and "air" in the mix that I hear in the 2014 vs the 1985).


    Finally, I know it's apples to oranges, but I will put in a plug for the 2014 Steven Wilson remix, which I've always loved and I think is well worth having. It's a matter of taste because while it remains true to the original mix, it does change what are arguably the two most signature aspects of the original mastering that mark it as an '80s mastering: The Wilson remix has bigger, more impactful bass; and the Wilson remix removes (or at least tames) the slight treble "halo" that gives the original that '80s "sheen." The result is IMHO something that sounds closer to recorded musical performances by all the musicians - aka it sounds like a rock band - while the original '80s mastering sounds more like a cohesive "production," with the sound being more a single unit.


    Personally I slightly prefer the Wilson remix because I think '80s mastering often sucks when it comes to getting drum sounds right (when there are real drums at all), and the Wilson restores a "live," realistic sound to the drums and entire rhythm section.


    So I like to have both mixes of this album available to me - the Wilson as noted above, and the original because, well, it's the original and the one we all grew up with!


    So echoing Josh's recommendation, I would suggest folks who are really into this album get the 2014 SHM-CD or SHM-SACD for the original mix, and the 2014 Blu-Ray for the Wilson remix (simply because it tends to be available more cheaply than the DVD-A version, which is obtainable only as part of the larger 2014 deluxe package).


    You're right that I may have slightly underplayed the difference between Whittaker and the '85 CD. I think the mix of gear will determine how large it is. Putting raw detail retrieval aside, I felt that DACs and amps with more front-to-back depth emphasized the Whittaker transfer's advantages more than ones with a flatter soundstage. But I also didn't want to exaggerate the differences, because I think Webb did a really commendable job with the '85 CD, especially given how far A/D conversion has come since then, and you can pick up one of the Webb CDs for a few bucks. For people who really love the album and want to absolute best resolution, the Whittaker is the clear choice, though.  

  4. A member over at SHF posted something interesting. HDTracks, which has the Walter version of Big Chair, includes this note:


    “Songs From The Big Chair was originally recorded on 1/2" analog tape in 1983 using a digital compressor that cut frequencies higher than 20kHz before being written to tape. This 2014 remaster was done by Andy Walter, at Abbey Road Studios from these same analog tapes which were transferred to digital at 96kHz/24-bit.”


    I noticed that there wasn’t much content above 20kHz on the various hi-res versions, but didn’t know the reason. It really underscores how they were mixing analog and digital technology at that moment in history. 

  5. On 12/15/2019 at 12:22 PM, db2 said:

    It looks like HDTracks has started selling a 24/96 download of So, saying it is the "2012" remaster.  Does anyone know if this is based on the 24/48 remaster praised here, with sound quality at least as good?

    I believe these are the same as the 2016 vinyl download, not the 2012 25th download, but I want to double check before saying for certain. 

  6. 6 minutes ago, mansr said:

    Here you go:

     .....  ......     .    ....... 
    .     . .     .   . .   .       
    .       .     .  .   .  .       
     .....  ......  .     . .....   
          . .     . ....... .       
    .     . .     . .     . .       
     .....  ......  .     . .       


    That's absolutely untrue. SBAF publishes lots of measurements. Moreover, both AtomicBob and Marv there are more accomplished at measurements than Amir is. The debate is about what measurements matter (and to what extent) as well as what's audible, not whether measurements have any value. 


    The recent claim by a someone at ASR that he was banned from SBAF for being "objectivist" is flatly untrue. A bunch of members (me included) engaged with him and gave him serious comments and advice about headphones. He was banned for saying racist things.


    3 minutes ago, pkane2001 said:


    I have personal, first-hand information about forums that are run by extreme subjectivists, where you get banned for mentioning measurements or blind tests. As I said, I'd rather not go down the path of naming them. It was not a pleasant experience but I'm not a vindictive type of person.


    Why can't you specify which forum you're speaking of so that we can debate whether that's the case?


    By the way, I'll be reviewing the Matrix for Audiophile Style, for those who'd like a subjective review. 😊

  8. 3 hours ago, The Computer Audiophile said:


    I was alerted to the NYA post last night. It contained the "Thanks..." at the bottom when I first saw it up there. 


    However, a thanks after stealing someone's content, not telling them in the first place, no real attribution, and no link back is pretty bad. 


    Ah, I thought that was in response to your emailing them. Definitely time to reach out to Neil, then. 

  9. 1 hour ago, plissken said:


    What is 'a certain threshold'?


    I'd suggest purchasing a DAC that gets as close as it gets to reconstructing the source material.


    You’d have to ask the ASR crowd what that threshold is for them. According to Amir’s reviews, DACs that measure much “worse” than any mentioned in this review are audible identical to “perfect” DACs in his blind listening.


    Personally, I think Marv’s SBAF post (linked as “realist” in my review) comes closer to the truth. 

  10. 8 hours ago, andrewinukm said:

    I don't know why people who dismisses observational reviews (reviews based on individual listening), and insists on measurements plus bias-controlled-test come here and demands for all kinds of nonsense. They have their playground at ASR, go have fun there.



    Please share a little more about the hearing training courses.


    Harman How to Listen is the classic. The Sound Gym site is also great. I've used both. The only downside is that the Harman is a desktop app and the Sound Gym tends to work best on desktop. But there are also some good, if less full-featured, apps to use on smartphones and tablets. HearEQ, Quiztones, and StudioEars are my favorites. 

  11. 9 hours ago, wgscott said:

    I have the same DAC as one of the most unapologetically subjectivist people that posts here.


    Out of curiosity, what DAC and what member? 


    As I said above, I don't think of myself as solely "subjectivist" or "objectivist," and I certainly think that people are allowed to believe what they want. My preamble was an attempt to flag for self-identified objectivists that my review would involve my subjective impressions (like @austinpop's reviews and others') and to politely suggest not to read on if that's not their cup of tea. Unfortunately, judging by the reaction to this review by the ASR crowd, that didn't matter.

  12. 9 hours ago, wgscott said:

    This would have been a much better review if paragraphs 2 and 3 and the first sentence of paragraph 4 were omitted.  As it stands, they detract and distract from the review.


    That's a fair point. I considered not even addressing the so-called "subjectivist" versus "objectivist" divide at all, but considering that this is my first DAC review, I thought it was worth saying something about it, rather than just ignoring it. The fact that this is the DAC for the ASR crowd seemed to increase the necessity of addressing it, too, at least in my mind. But now that that's out of the way, my future DAC reviews won't bother with that preamble.

  13. 44 minutes ago, Ralf11 said:

    Unfortunately, "no one has ever heard a difference” is just as valid a comment as "DACs do sound different" since there has been no valid testing done.


    I know you are certain of your listening results (just as I know that you re an excellent listener, and excellent at verbalizing the differences you perceive).   But at least single blind testing is critical to establish the proposition.


    Until BAS or someone does this, consumers are left to do their own testing (which they'd have to do anyway for a specific make/model).


    OTOH, you might also give listening impressions on whether the differences you perceive among DACs are generally greater or less than among various different masterings...


    I am using terms like heard & perceived; listening comparison vs. listening tests carefully in the above...


    Well, as I said, my experience certainly has been that even when people (such as Marv, in the SBAF links) go to great lengths to conduct proper blind tests, they’re dismissed as “invalid.” 


    IMO, it would be wonderful to not hear differences. I’d love to believe that a sub-$100 DAC or headphone amp is the absolute best there is. If anything, my inherent cheapness and class warrior politics biases me to always give inexpensive products every benefit of the doubt in listening. (Indeed, way back when I got into the hobby, I was convinced that many differences I now hear didn’t exist. Then I experienced better gear, improved my listening skills...)


    As I said in the review, I think people who don’t believe there are (and/or can’t hear) differences between DACs should simply buy one of the good cheap DACs out there and be happy, without also calling everyone who disagrees morons and harassing them. Whatever time they’re saving by not having to look further for DACs, they’re wasting by yelling at people online who disagree.  


    In terms of masterings versus DACs, by and large masterings make much bigger differences. The difference between a poorly transfered, poorly EQ’d, or squashed mastering and one that does all three well is drastic. That said, there are certain masterings that are so close in quality where a change in DAC might be more audible (two really good flat transfers of a great master tape, etc.). But in the average mix of masterings I look at for my column, the difference between the best and worse mastering is much bigger than the difference between the Modi 3 and Solaris, in terms of immediate, unsubtle audibility. (OTOH, picking a better mastering improves one album, where picking a better DAC improves your whole collection.)

  14. 2 hours ago, Bill_G said:

    Ahh, no! The flaws present in the DAC are well within the audible range of human hearing. Now they may not sound particularly harsh due to masking, but they'll definitely influence what one hears. Everyone over at ASR isn't an experienced audio scientist or engineer. 

    What's up with the quotes around certain words? If you're trying to make some sort of point with them, I fail to see what it is, and it comes across as a bit juvenile quite frankly. If you're trying to inform us that you're a "subjectivist", I already figured that one out for myself. The lack of understanding in regards engineering of a DAC was readily apparent from the very beginning of the review. However, you're not alone in that, as the vast majority of"audiophile" reviewers are technologically illiterate as well.  


    Note I said “all reasonable use case” (meaning: listening to music in a normal setting). While everyone at ASR isn’t an engineer, many claim to be, and even more claim that they understand engineering in a way that mere foolish “audiophiles” do not. Moreover, even Amir has said that the flaws in DACs that measure as “poorly” (or worse) than the Airist produce “audible effects [that] are subtle to non-existent.”


    I put terms that aren’t my own (and that I’d prefer we didn’t use) in quotes. I don’t believe in the oppositional dichotomy of “subjectivist” and “objectivist.” I’d prefer a synthesis between the two. I value measurements immensely. But I also don’t think six or seven graphs can tell us all we need to know about how a piece of equipment will sound. 


    I’d also be fascinated to know what in my first paragraphs demonstrated to you that I’m “technologically illiterate.” I’m guessing it’s that I indicated that I don’t agree that all “properly designed” DACs sound alike. In that case, I’ve already given you my polite suggestion of what to do: stop reading, go buy a Modi 3, and stop worrying about DACs forever. 

  15. 3 hours ago, Ralf11 said:

    it is post #53 in this thread:



    Yes, I did think the 1st para. here set up a strawman...


    Thank you for the link. Great stuff!


    My first paragraph set up a strawman? I wish that were the case. That’s why I provided the link to ASR, where I lurk. But I have plenty more examples. Indeed, just today the “all properly designed DACs sound the same; no one has ever heard a difference” mantra popped up again. IMO, that crowd ignores that expectancy bias runs both ways. If you believe all DACs sound the same, of course your own blind tests will prove you correct. Indeed, there’s no way to be proven wrong in that circumstance due to the structure of the test. It’s only meaningful when people who think they can hear differences take blind tests. But in my experience (as my links show) even correct results in those tests are dismissed. So it’s become a no-win scenario if you hear differences. Given that, I honestly think it’s fine for “objectivists” to simply go their own way and buy a cheap “perfect” DAC. 

  16. 2 hours ago, Ralf11 said:



    were those 2 things done for this RME review?


    BTW, Rajiv laid out a nice list of why different DACs might sound different - if you search under his username, or for "sticky" and mine you'll find it


    My vote goes for analog stages in the DAC...


    I'll look for that list (or, if you're able, please post a link here!).


    As I mention in a footnote, I matched the DACs' levels to within .2 dB, but I didn't do any blind testing. In that past, I've done blind testing of DACs before and heard differences beyond chance. (I've also done things like get my hearing professional tested, completed hearing training courses, etc. that most people who claim to care about "audio science" don't bother with.) But, as the reaction over at ASR to SBAF's extensive blind testing shows, it doesn't matter if the testing is blind, people who don't believe "properly designed" DACs can sound different will still reject the results. It's ultimately not worth the trouble, IMO. That's why I suggested (very seriously and non-snarkily) at the top of the review that people who don't think "properly designed" DACs can sound different stop reading and instead by a Modi 3 or similarly cheap "perfect" measuring DAC.

  17. Glad you wrote this, @The Computer Audiophile! I was about to post about this in the dedicated Qobuz thread.


    Happily, given his promotion of Amazon's (inferior, IMO) lossless streaming, Neil said this about Qobuz's decision to drop MP3s: “Qobuz sounds great! Qobuz was one of the earliest Hi-Res streamers. Their new offer is another big step towards making Hi-Res streaming available at the same cost as MP3 streaming today.”

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