Tag Archives: audiophile

Listen

When you’re in an anechoic chamber—a room full of pyramid-shaped, foot-long absorbers located on the walls, ceiling and floor (there is typically a large screen providing the footing) that keep sound waves from bouncing around—the silence isn’t, as they say, deafening, but it causes a sensation that makes it seem as though the atmosphere is somehow thicker in there. The sound goes away. You move through the space (I’ve had the opportunity to be in chambers capable of accommodating cars and instrumentation, so these chambers are sometimes like large rooms that you could even dance in) and because the nearly silent audible cues that you don’t even pay any attention to in normal activities—sounds like the fabric of your clothes brushing as you walk—are absent, it is a bit eerie. Or a lot eerie. You can hear your blood pumping, though the sound has more consistency than a rhythmic beat. It is not a place you want to be in for too long.

It makes you appreciate, well, sound.

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John Cage’s 4’33” (In Proportional Notation) was first performed by pianist David Tudor on August 29,1952 in Woodstock, New York. There are three movements to the composition. The movements, unlike those in other musical works, consisted of Tudor opening and closing the lid of the keyboard to mark each section.

Cage recalled, according to the Museum of Modern Art, “You could hear the wind stirring outside during the first movement. During the second, raindrops began pattering the roof, and during the third people themselves made all kinds of interesting sounds as they talked or walked out.”

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Cars, Turntables & Physical Objects

Last week I had the opportunity to drive a 2022 Honda Civic. It was the top-of-the-line Touring trim. It is an all-new, 11th generation Civic. It has leather seats, Bose audio with 12-speakers, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, an array of sensors for safety, moonroof, 180-hp turbocharged engine. . . and a lot more stuff.

It is really an impressive vehicle, and being a Honda Civic, I would imagine that whoever buys one is likely to have it for some years in reliable operation. A value play.

This morning I read piece by Jacob Heilbrunn in The Absolute Sound about his quest for getting a custom reference stand for his turntable. He contacted the chief engineer at a Buffalo, New York-based company, Harmonic Resolution Systems, about getting the company’s VXR stand. As things went, Heilbrunn obtained a custom VXR Zero stand.

It cost $52,000.

The Civic has an MSRP of $28,300.

I suspected that I was missing something.

So I looked at the turntable that Heilbrunn needed this very specific stand to accommodate.

A TechDAS Air Force Zero turntable.

According to Hideaki Nishikawa, who designed the reference turntable, “The goal of the project was to develop a truly groundbreaking product, building on our expertise and knowledge and incorporating new ideas and insights. To achieve this goal, the project had to be cost-no-object. And it had to have whatever technologies would be best suited for sonic performance, no matter how much it would cost.”

The result is a unit that weighs 727.5 pounds and measures 35.5 x 26.6 x 13.2 inches.

According to a recent review in Stereophile, the TechDAS Air Force Zero has a base price (i.e., there are models above it in the TechDAS lineup) of $450,000.

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History Channel Documentary: The Beatles On Record

The Beatles in the studioHeaven knows we don’t talk about The Beatles enough around here. Sure, we dedicated way too many posts to the dopey conversations Jake and I had around the remastered box set and we post any previously unseen photos we can find on the Internet, but that’s not enough, is it?

What I really want to talk about most of the time is HOW they got some of their sounds. There are moments in some of their music that blow me away after hundreds of listens and I want to understand that magic if I can. Why is it Ringo’s drums sound so good on Abbey Road? How did they get that killer bass tone? What pedals did George use to get that signature tone? As someone who has spent way too many hours in studios trying to get the right sound, I can tell you that it is indeed magic and mysterious.

Luckily, we’re been hit over the head with new Beatles material and now the History Channel is chiming in with a new program that looks at The Beatles and their recording techniques and experimentation. According to the press release, “The Beatles On Record, a new documentary premiering on HISTORY on Wednesday, November 25 at 10pm, charts The Beatles’ extraordinary recording journey from Please Please Me to the epic Abbey Road LP and reveals how they developed as musicians, matured as songwriters and created an enduring body of work that pushed the boundaries of studio recording, changing the course of musical history and popular culture.”

Sounds right up my alley.

The Beatles On Record Pt. 1

Full press release after the jump…

The Beatles: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

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Sound + Vision Interviews Beatles Remastering Team

Maybe you’re sick of talking about The Beatles‘ remastered catalog, but we’re not. Especially when it comes to the technical inside baseball talk and getting insight to some of the decisions made by the remastering team.

Sound + Vision caught up with project coordinator Allan Rouse and recording engineers Guy Massey and Paul Hicks. Most of the interview hits the usual audio geek questions around gear and the condition of the original tapes, but this bit caught my eye:

…we wanted to improve the recordings at least to an extent that helps them sound better, perhaps, for the 21st century. I suppose you could argue that you should remaster them twice: once for the people from the ’60s, and again for the new generation.

Please don’t tell me there’s ever been any consideration to enter The Beatles into the loudness wars. I don’t like the sound of remastering “for the new generation” since those poor kids have been bombarded with noise with no rest in the dynamic range for more than a decade. Massey attempts to clear it up:

We were obviously aware of the Loudness Wars — squashing, brickwalling, all that sort of stuff — and we didn’t want to do that. We wanted to retain the original dynamics. So for the loudest part of the loudest songs, there may be limiting of 3 to 4 dB, but for most of the songs, most of the time, there isn’t any limiting.

But then Rouse chimes in with some nonsense about The Beatles not just being about the sound, but the songs. Well, no shit. But the sound of those recordings is almost as important as the songs they capture. The Beatles revolutionized popular music recording and the dynamic range of the music is part of that revolution. They specifically moved the kick drum mic closer to Ringo’s kit to capture a particular sound that was essential to backbeat music.

As happy as I am with the remastered catalog, talk like that makes me nervous about any future work.

The Beatles: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki