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04-25-2012, 09:42 AM #1
- Join Date
- May 2008
Reference Music Used In Component Evaluations and Reviews
Maybe you could try to sit in on a real hi res recording session of live acoustic material, preferably large scale orchestral with solo voice and keep that studio experience and the masterfiles as a more reliable and credible reference tool than as now quoting popular pop music titles in yor reviews here.
ps I understand that this post can and most probably will, be taken by some here as a personal attack on you and themselves. Let me be clear again, it is NOT intended as such.
It may be a bit rude after all the good things you are doing here But trust me .
I am just, once again, trying to re-establish TRUE REFERENCES.
And in my own rude way, trying to give you some advice.
ps 2 There are quite a few Classical Music companies that actually do record music very realistically in both pcm hi res and DSD. Why not use their recordings more when testing/evaluating DACS and other computer audio equipment. The only references I have seen of classical music in ANY of your reviews here are a mere couple of ... yes that magic word again REFERENCE RECORDINGS...
And yes they are often very good but it seems you only occasionally refer to one and the same one even from them, you seem to like?
With muzak and electronic pop, rock, hip hop, and rap crap, it doesn't really matter which dac you are using, CRAP IN CRAP OUT. But with large scale acoustic Art Music it matters A LOT if you really LISTEN to the music .
Sorry if this seems offensive but like the classical record CEO who, obviously in vain? attempted to sort out the difference between hearing and listening here recently I too needed to get this off my chest again.
I am fed up reading reviews in both hi fi magazines and here of megabuck systems,without almost ever even touching on the music where SQ matters the most.
All the best Chrille
04-26-2012, 02:51 PM #2
Hi Chrille - Good to hear from you. Honestly I consider your post as constructive criticism and take nothing personal.
The issue of a reference is very important. I've finally solidified my reference components by purchasing the TAD CR1 speakers, Spectral Audio DMA-260 amp, Spectral Audio DMC-30SS Series 2 preamp, and Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Series 2. Now that I own all my components nothing needs to be sent back to a manufacturer and I can compare all new components to this system.
The issue of a reference for music is important but impossible as you've stated it.
The titles I frequently use are very good recordings and can help identify differences in components despite your assumption that these titles are far from a decent reference. Plus, almost every recording I use is commercially available. All CA readers can purchase these titles and listen for themselves to see if they agree with my assessment or not.
I recommend Ray LaMontagne's God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise, tracks 5. Are We Really Through and 6. This Love Is Over.
Three other frequent titles I use for review are
Ottmar Liebert's One Guitar (24/96)
Kansas City Symphony' Britten's Orchestra (RR HRx 24/176.4)
Antonio Forcione & Sabina Sciubba's Meet Me In London (Naim Label 24/192)
If you never listen to these titles you'll never know how good they are and how good they are for comparing different components.
Your only reference, according to you is, "live acoustic music!" That's wonderful but does nothing to help other people relate to the sound you may describe. Nobody else was at the concert, sat in your seat, or can use that as a reference because it's a memory only in your head. I definitely see value in attending live performances and possibly keeping the master recording files (which I've done). This would help me attempt to compare from memory the sound from my seat at the show on that day to what I hear in my home. But this is only valuable for me and can't be used by anyone else. Plus, sound reproduction in the home is only a cartoon caricature of the real performance. In addition, comparing different performances, one live and one recorded for playback in the home, wouldn't accomplish much. Say I go see Ottmar Liebert live at a local venue. There's no way I can go home and listen to his One Guitar album and say with a straight face, wow this guitar doesn't sound like it did live. Different guitar, different strings, different atmosphere, different acoustics, etc... The most important instrument in the system is the venue.
Can you give me an idea what recordings I use for evaluation that you think have no value?
This is a very interesting topic. One that should possibly be in it's own thread instead of a thread about the best DAC. I'll see if I can move it so we can further this discussion.
Like you nothing I write should be taken personal. It's just a discussion. Maybe everyone can consider all sides and learn something :~)
04-27-2012, 07:41 AM #3
- Join Date
- May 2008
Good to hear that you were not offended.
Let me begin by repeating my apology again. I completetly missed your reference to the excellent Britten 24/176.4 masterfiles from Reference Recordings when I first read your review of the Berkeley.
But maybe you too misunderstood my "only reference " a bit .
What I am trying to say again is that in the context of real HI FI and most accurate reproduction of recorded music IMO opinion it certainly matters a lot what type of music you use.
With any type of electronically amplified or electronically derived music like synth and whatever all you can compare is how one piece of equipment delivers already inherent included distortions in lets say an electric guitar for example. Of course that also applies partly to acoustic music since amps are used at the recording session too and they and a lot of other things influence the SQ of course . Acoustic music recorded as accurately as possible still remains the only true reference in HI FI.
And it certainly helps a lot if you know how things sounded at the actual venue and sessions.
Of course once again there are variables, your position and many other variables . But, and this is important, there are far fewer variables with live acoustic music as a reference than with any other type of music.
It is much easier to narrow down things with what used to be the only true reference when long ago the term HI FI was coined.
Personally for the closest approach to the real thing I often prefer to listen via studio quality Headphones because it removes the variable of one more acoustic that is added to the one where things were recorded.
Of course today far too many recordings don't even capture the acoustic preferring to multimike a synthetic a mishmash and then add artificial reverb the end. Such recordings often sound horrible on any good system if you know how live acoustic music generally sounds in a real hall.
With really good headphones you hear timbral, tonal shadings and dynamic shadings and the air around instruments, in a way very few speakers can even approach.
Every speaker no matter how good it is, has to perform in an acoustic different from the one where the music was recorded and that is added together with the inherent colorations of the speakers themselves.
With studio quality headphones you hear the orginal acoustic,provided it has been captured by the recording engineer, only adding the coloration added by your amp and headphones and any coloration /distortion contained in the recording .
One step closer to the real thing IMO.
Yes I know, there are other things that conventional headphone listening doesn't get right. But maybe The Smyth realizer can solve a lot of those problems?But for lowest possible distortion of the original signal and reproduction of the original acoustic venue, headphones are simply the best IMO.
When no speakers are good enough I turn to my Sennheiser HD 800 or my Electrostatic headphones.
I even compared my HD 800 to the big TAD Reference recently and at least there and then in that room, my headphones sounded closer to what I heard at some sessions than the megabuck TAD system did.
Apart from the often excellent recordings from Reference Recordings I would recommend most DXD titles from 2L and also the excellent work done by Jared Sacks at Channel Classics in pure DSD to name only a couple of the good labels out there recording classical music in hi res quality.
Chris I am looking forward to your reviews and discussions of DSD capable DACs.
I still haven't decided which one to buy.
All the problems with the Mytek discussed endlessly here makes me a bit wary.
Whether DSD actually sounds better than for example DXD? Now that I will leave open for the time being. Maybe another discussion ?
ps You will basically be forced to listen to both a lot of acoustic and classical music when testing the DSD capablity of such DACs. Luckily little else than real music is recorded in DSD!
Those few dedicated labels working in pure DSD unanimously employ it where SQ matters most, real live acoustic music recorded in a real venue.
All the best and thanks for an interesting site .
05-12-2012, 01:21 PM #4
- Join Date
- May 2011
First off, wow! Chris, you have a world class system. I was going to mention Reference Recordings, but several posters beat me to it. I have virtually all the Keith Johnson RR recordings; they make up over half of my stack of 45 CDs of Reference Music. They're the best Classical Recordings on god's green earth. So, I'll mention the Mariinsky label, with the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra and Valery Gergiev Conducting. For Russian music, look no further; Gergiev's fiery temperament and the excellent playing combined with SOTA recording technology yields some of the best classical recordings I've ever heard (this on the PCM layer only; I imagine the DSD layer is even better). The dynamics are tremendous, rivaling the best of RR, and the sense of space/ambience and the "Hall" are amazing. Gergiev is now working on a Shostakovich Symphony cycle of which I have 1 & 15; the Mariinsky catalogue has around 30 CDs if memory serves me. Well worth checking out their website-
My system: Sony transport/Schiit Bifrost/NAD326BEE preamp/Emotiva UPA-1 Monoblocs/Selah Audio Veritas/2 Emotive DSP 10 Subs/Emotiva cabling.Oppo BDP 103/Schiit Bifrost DAC/NAD326BEE preamp/Emotiva UPA-1 monoblocs/Selah Audio Verita Monitors/2 Emotiva DSP 10 Subs/Emotiva cabling
05-26-2012, 03:13 PM #5
- Join Date
- May 2011
The most spectacular recording of a piano I have is a CD recorded in 1995 in Russia entitled 20th Century Russian piano music,
performed by Vladimir Yurigin-Klevke on Delos DRD 2008. The first piece, Ciaconna (by Sofia Gubaidulina) will jar you out of your seat with the explosive, dynamic sound of a Grand Piano. It's a very close up, resonant sound, that's eerily alive and present. It's somewhat reminiscent of the Direct Disc LP Piano recordings of yesteryear, the best of which could put a Grand Piano in your living room. This is even more dynamic, with none of the limitations of even the best LPs. The 2nd work, Arvo Part's Partita, is just as impressive. The remaining works by Shostakovich, Shchedrin and Karayev are not as good; they were obviously made at a different time, with another Mic setup, etc.
pawsmanOppo BDP 103/Schiit Bifrost DAC/NAD326BEE preamp/Emotiva UPA-1 monoblocs/Selah Audio Verita Monitors/2 Emotiva DSP 10 Subs/Emotiva cabling
05-28-2012, 11:44 AM #6
05-28-2012, 04:11 PM #7
Also, have you tried out many different amps with the CR1's before settling on Spectral? What made you go for this combo?Weiss Medea+ / DartZeel NHB 18NS - 108 / TAD CR1