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curmudgeon

Thank crisnee For This

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User crisnee (whose Album of the Evening postings I appreciate and watch for) has suggested a review-centric version of the Album of The Evening thread:

Original: http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/Album-Evening

Crisnee: http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/Album-Eve-Reviews

Also I notice that crisnee has been a catalyst for the CA Scrobble thread:

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/Introducing-CA-Scrobbles

First, I am a bit nonplussed by CA Scrobbles. It holds some interest but doesn't work for me from a participation standpoint as it seems to be limited to JR Media Center use -- right now, I am concentrating on building up my AIFF/Audirvana Plus library for my main listening scenario. Furthermore, scrobbling is more voyeuristic than I care for, and doesn't really tell me what I really would want to know. I would prefer actual review as suggested by crisness' Album of the Eve, Reviews. But don't take this as a vote against CA Scrobbles. I'm all for as much diversity and content as we can stuff into this great CA venue. (I could easily go off-topic here with a question about how the heck do I track someone's posts in general. I see the Track tab when I click to view a user's profile, but it seems that that user's specific entry is buried somewhere deep in the indicated thread, rather than pointing directly to it ... unless I'm missing something here.)

Now as for Album of the Eve, Reviews ...

What does the new Album of the Eve, Reviews mean vis-a-vis Album of the Evening? Does this mean that the Album of the Evening thread will be closed? What are the specific boundaries for each?

(I see that user MyCDList seems to be cross-posting between these threads, which is one reasonable interim approach. I occasionally link to other posts, usually my own, from the Album of the Evening thread.)

As to the issue about the relationship between Album of the Evening and Album of Eve, Reviews ... Right now, I am continuing my posts, slightly amplified with a DR value here, a historical note there, maybe a link, as the spirit moves, to the Album of the Evening.

[SIDEBAR:
I have made a few special interest commentaries, not what I would really call reviews, here in my CA blog section -- not sure that they are really what people would have in mind for Album of Eve, Reviews -- such as:

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/blogs/Lioness (a simple amplification of my customary Album of the Evening post re Amy Winehouse's Lioness)

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/blogs/Curmudgeonly-Top-Ten-2011

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/blogs/Christmas-Music-Doesnt-Suck (includes my comments on the incredible Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir's christmas album and a few others)

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/blogs/Looming-Large (a piece on Pink Martini)


http://www.computeraudiophile.com/blogs/Gorey-not-typo-End (perhaps the closest thing I think of as a music review is this thing on the Tiger Lillies/Kronos Quartet collaboration on the irrevelant Gorey End album)

And a couple that probably belonged in Album of the Evening ...

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/blogs/Analog-Again

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/blogs/Analog-Album-Evening

I must admit that I suspect that many of my blog entries are too long-winded, too off-topic or just too boring to be useful, as there have been precious few comments.

END SIDEBAR]

I have always assumed that the original Album of the Evening represented stuff people wanted to recommend to others, that the very mention implied that this was something good and worthy of others' investigation. At least that goes for my postings. Originally (on 6/17/2011, http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/Album-Evening), CA/Chris suggested posting just the artist and album info, with no cover art or linkage needed. Many -- myself included -- cannot resist posting some comments and album art. This I personally enjoy and appreciate seeing.

However, I am in no way any kind of expert music reviewer, and certainly don't have the cred (in terms of experience, high-level equipment sensitivity, and quality of physical hearing). I can't tell you how my version of Beverly Sills singing arias from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor compare with renditions by Maria Callas or Joan Sutherland, I just know they exist and I can Google my way to find other reviews of that work if I really want to badly enough. But I know that I love the way Beverly Sills' voice from her 60s-70s heyday sounds.

My audiophiliac experience is also very limited. I have no idea, really, what other people here at CA are hearing on their megabuck systems, and I don't have much opportunity to hear other systems directly. Although ... my modest NAD/PSB setup has occasionally surprised me by showing that some music I used to hear doesn't sound as good as I had remembered, and that the occasional 24/96 download does sound really, really nice. (I have come up with this little objective -- hopefully not entirely misguided -- of trying to find new music at 24/96 minimum if possible, whether I can wholly appreciate it or not, as a sort of a hedge to the future and for the collection that my kids will inherit.)

And I long ago picked up on the fact that I cannot usefully play music with an expansive dynamic range in my old 4WD truck interior(86-90db SPL at idle, stopped), nor can I stand to listen to MP3s played from my portable device when hooking up the MP3 port on my NAD 316 (In fact, I have made believers out of several friends, inviting them over to play MP3s on their iPods output through my main system, compared back-to-back with my FLACs or AIFFs -- even have demonstrated to the previous unbelievers that 320bitrate MP3s are a big improvement over 128s.) Don't get me started on dynamic range compression. Well, too late ...

Over the past year or two, I have converted all my CDs to FLAC, and most of my downloads are FLAC. On the Windows side of the house, my ripping process has usually entailed ripping with Foobar2000 in mind, as I use the foobar Dynamic Range Meter component. This means that I can automatically embed foobar DR track and album values into my FLAC metadata. Sure enough, I find that many old CDs do sound better than newer ones, and often I can see that the DR values are wildly down in newer stuff, mainly rock and pop and some jazz.

Now I am converting my FLACs to AIFF as I was able recently to repurpose and dedicate an iMac, and discovered how much I like Audirvana Plus. I am using dbPowerAmp in Windows to convert, which (almost always) preserves the DR values (but -- in yet another digression -- I don't know how to rip new CDs in dbPowerAmp, without first having to run the CD or the FLAC rips through foobar2000 to get DR readings -- but that is another subject that I need to ask about another time of CA folks). So if I am posting an Album of the Evening listen, I try to remember to also post the DR values I have for it, if that is of any use to people. I would certainly like to see other posters do that. Of course, lots of dynamic range in itself doesn't mean music sounds good. I wouldn't mind more tech readouts like we occasionally see in various postings -- but hopefully these should be accompanied by plainspeak interpretation that we who don't work in recording studios really can comprehend; you know, show us exactly how to look at these graphs.

My wife and I do a lot of online shopping these days for just about everything and we comparison-shop, from Comsumer Reviews to Amazon reviews to whatever authoritative stuff I can google up. User reviews I find interesting but fraught with peril. In areas of my own general expertise, I find I need to really read between the lines. For computer hardware, for example, as a fairly seasoned computer professional, I can usually readily discount negative reviews by those who are clearly pretty -- sorry -- clueless. User music reviews -- especially anything other than opera, classical or jazz -- are all over the map, and I usually don't get much further than I can by listening to some of my over-opinionated, under-listened colleages or relatives, most of whom don't care for what I listen to, anyway. I figure that the CA audience is a cut above in overall musical tastes, but I still am a bit flummoxed when I run into a CA user whose Album of the Evening posting brings a smile to my face when I recognize one of my own albums or favorites artists, but when the same user waxes rhapsodically about something I consider to be musically-mediocre at best, I don't know where to go with that. Or is that individual basing his/her judgments only on the perceived sound quality? (Yes, I know people who love to hear the sound of almost anything, if it is sufficiently true to life -- I even confess to enjoying this at times myself, and know some artists who just work in raw "sounds". For that matter, I know plenty who deliberately distort sounds.) Heck, I enjoy from time to time John Cage or Harry Partch. And Portishead with its deliberately-induced background record-noises. But, day in and day out, it would be easier just to tell people upfront that I really like, say, Bob Dylan, J.S. Bach, Tom Waits, Nina Simone, Max Richter, Arvo Part, Franz Schubert, Radiohead, Portishead, Shelby Lynne, Laurie Anderson, Amy Winehouse, Adele, Hilary Hahn, the aforementioned Beverly Sills, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Anne Sofie von Otter, Steve Reich, Philip Glass ... this mixed artist/composer list could go on for quite a while. Or that I tend to prefer sonatas to concertos, or chamber music to symphonies, or minor to major, baroque to romantic, punk to pop, triphop to hiphop, fado to salsa, but there are too many exceptions there to say such a thing.

I don't expect us all to be professional music critics. After all, there are blogs galore for that, and some can get paid for that and we know where to find them. So I don't expect comprehensive authoritative review along these lines, but some input can always be helpful. Even among the pro critics, I rarely read only one or two when going into something blind (... er, deaf).

One thing I like about Stereophile mag's music reviews are the two part ratings: one for performance, one for sonics. This becomes helpful. And I guess I also would like as an adjunct to the sonics ratings, some disclosure of DR values and whatever anybody can show the non-studio-engineer graphically.

Also, I think the evidence shows that I am not a sufficiently skilled writer to be much of a contributer to a review-oriented Album of Eve, Reviews. Heck, I have written so much here today that I have run out of energy (and time) to review it and edit it down to something reasonable. That's why stream-of-consciousness screeds like this I keep off the main track. (But I do like to write; it ultimately helps me to think ... I think.) But the main point I make is more input and evaluation on what we hear, the better.

Finally, I know what a time-consuming effort it is to write up anything of any consequence. Myself, I already am over-committed with two music blogs, two photography blogs, a personal family blog and with two other blogs that I co-maintain, all alongside my full-time day job and my daily pursuit of photography. Probably many others here are in similar straits, so I hope that some will be deeply enough into this to proceed. I surely will appreciate what does come of this, and will try to make a little contribution now & then.
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