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NICKY HOPKINS

Nicky Hopkins (1944-1994) was one of the best keyboard artists of the classic rock era.   He passed at only 50 years of age, much too early.  He worked with the Kinks, The Rolling Stones, The Who and many other groups.   Listen to Sympathy for the Devil on the Beggars Banquet album and you will know what I mean.   Maybe the best rock piano track ever.   Thanks Nick.

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KIETH RIEF

Relf was 33 when he died from electrocution, in the basement of his home, while playing his improperly earthed (electrically grounded) guitar. Relf had dealt with several health issues throughout his life, including emphysema and asthma, which may have contributed to his inability to survive the electric shock.   If you have ever heard the Yardbirds version of (H. Wolf's) "Smokestack Lightning" Kieth did the harmonica solo.  Maybe the best harmonic solo ever.     Thanks Mr. Rief    

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Twits on Twitter

If 50% of the accounts on Twitter are bots, how can they make any money on advertising?   I mean, bots don't buy peanut butter, do they?

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William Gibson "Winter Market"

If you don't know William Gibson, you should.  Neuromancer?  Anyone? William Gibson's fiction often is set in the near future.  Unfortunately, some of his plot elements, in some form, come to pass. There is a collection of his early short stories entitled "During Chrome" highly recommended. One of the short stories is titled "Winter Market".   Without a spoiler, the story involves the future of entertainment AR, VR and more. Winter Market also has a short riff on the protagonist's father who produced vinyl.  Cool. 

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Is Radiohead the Best Band in the World?

I am a big Raidohead fan.     They use quirky percussion tracks.   They do not resolve chords in a traditional way. They give concerts in Israel despite the outrage of people who should know better.   They are a counter argument to those who say there has not been any good (or at least interesting) music produced since 1969.      

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The Truth about Apple. Why they hate us.

Apple hates audiophiles.  They have made Billions off of iTunes, but deep down inside their cold, code driven hearts they hate us.  They are bloodless, they don't enjoy music except as an entry on their accounts receivable ledger. They don't enjoy sex because it can't be monetized in a family-friendly environment.  Every update that is spewed from Cupertino is just an excuse to damage the free flow of music through our assorted DACs.  One update kills W4S DAC-2, the next update is unwittingly targeted against some other innocent.   A History:  (This is a true story.....in respect for the dead the names have been changed.  In respect for the living the story is represented as true)   Jane graduates from CalTech.  She is smart, she received excellent grades and she is very technically adept, she can code with the best of them.  She did the right internships, checked all the boxes with the right professors and mentors.  She applied to several tech companies and, upon graduation, she accepted a job at Apple.   Jane's first assignment at Apple is to work on OS X whatever.  The new update to the existing operating system. Now she is on her own.  As a junior member of the team, she knows she must contribute something.  Even if the customer has no need or desire for an upgrade, Jane has to change something, improve something, do something to justify her employment.   Well multiply Jane by 1001 and you get the picture.  Young engineers and coders who have never heard of Miles Davis, who think music is some thin screech supported by a computer generated bass line emitting from a .27cent ear bud and you can see why the so called updates to our operating systems are, for the audiophile, much more trouble than they are worth.    

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WE DON'T NEED NO MQA - WE DON'T NEED NO THOUGHT CONTROL

Source material matters.  Why spend extra money to hear something that was poorly recorded? Point being - if it is a good or outstanding recording, then it will sound wonderful without hocus pocus.  If the recording is substandard, then why bother with additional processing?  I have six copies of "Exile on Mainstreet" :  Vinyl, CD, SACD, Japanese flat transfer, whatever. It all sounds like it was recorded in a basement somewhere in Southern France.  In short, all copies, all media, all sounds like crap.   Love the album, hate the recording.  No further hardware or software required            

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Absence Makes the Ears Grow Fonder

I just got back from a long(ish) sea voyage.  Los Angles to Hawaii and back. Very enjoyable. When I got home, I turned on the music system.  I was struck by how good the music sounded.   I am guessing that a break from my normal listening habits gave my ears a rest.     If you find yourself not enjoying your music as much as you know you should.   Take a break      

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Cables matter in mastering why not at home?

From the Music Matters, Ltd web site.   "When Ron and I agreed that Kevin was the Engineer we wanted to do the transfers for our Music Matters Blue Note reissue program I began to think about the connectivity issue at Kevin's studio. As VP of product development at AudioQuest since 1983, the knowledge that cables make a difference is hardly new to me!   An inspection of the facility revealed adequate wiring (mostly from Canare I believe) but hardly the stuff of audiophile dreams. As great as the output of Grays Equipment has been, I knew we could push the performance of this system significantly higher by improving the wiring of both the line level connections as well as the many AC cables in the chain. Kevin quickly agreed to give it a try.   The improvement we heard (by comparing before and after acetates) was substantial. It was clear that we had made a significant improvement to the facility. Through my many years at AQ (Bill Low and I shipped out of his garage back when I started at AQ in 1983) I have become quite familiar with the kind of musically important improvements that can be made when the cabling is made to be more of what it should be.....a sonically "invisible" conduit to the source.   After hearing the difference the AudioQuest cable made in his mastering set up, Kevin Gray had this to say: "I found the change with the AudioQuest cable to be subtle at first. It didn't really change tonality like many other cables I have auditioned. What it DID do is allow you to hear further INTO the music. Subtle directional and spatial cues became clearer and more defined without brightening or hardening the sound. I really appreciate this. So many cables I have heard tend to harden or soften one area of the frequency spectrum and everyone goes ‘Ooh, ahh!'. I don't want that. I just want definition. AudioQuest offers the finest sense of that I have ever heard."   The sonic results of this improvement are being heard not only on the Music Matters series of Blue Note reissues, but everything coming out of Cohearent Studio. Ron and I naturally decided not to make the improved wire a "Music Matters only" feature. After all, we are music lovers first and foremost.   We think you will be quite pleased with the improvement we have managed to squeeze out of an already state of the art mastering facility. "     Take away: It is a given that there was a bias toward AudioQuest, but I do find it interesting that the Music Matters team saw Sound Quality (SQ) improve in the mastering process. Music Matters is in business to sell high quality recordings. I am a cable agnostic, but it may be that this article quoted above is somewhat divorced from our constant debate regarding cables in that Music Matters is a business and perhaps more interested in results than blood letting.

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Hearing loss and early Dementia

[h=1]Straining to Hear and Fend Off Dementia[/h]By KATHERINE BOUTON (NEW YORK TIMES. 12 FEB) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -   The above story is featured in the New York Times Science section today. It is well worth reading. In this blog entry I would like to submit for consideration that listening to music may help fend off dementia.   Ms. Bouton reports that researchers have found that hearing loss increases social isolation and that such isolation leads to an increase in early dementia. Now, if you do have serious hearing loss, to the extent that you are at risk for social isolation, would your enjoyment of music help maintain mental activity?   The New York Times article cites various studies on Isolation and hearing loss, but, to my knowledge, no studies have been conducted regarding serious music fans, social isolation, and dementia. It would be interesting to see if people who have hearing loss and are in an at risk group would have less dementia than individuals who do not enjoy music on a regular basis.   This is an area of study that may deserve attention.

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Digital Rights Management and the Audi A7

Well last week, I go out and get a very nice Audi A7. A vision in silver, as sleek as a blue fin tuna, and as musical as a dead carp. I attempted to load a few CDs into the internal Hard Drive. I was shocked, SHOCKED to learn that the Audi so called "Jukebox", will not load standard Audio CDs because of "legal reasons". I guess some green eye-shade lawyer in Neckarslum had decided that I have no rights under the fair use doctrine. So if I want to check out a few new CDs on the road, I am reduced to loading a shoe box up with my CDs for the drive. Too bod I got rid of my 8-Track storage box when I sold my 1970 Ford Falcon. Oh, and the SD Card drive only recognizes MP3s. Neil Young will not like this development. So I have to hook up my iPod or convert audio files to MP3 to load on the SD card or listen to a CD (single disk drive) or listen to the radio.   Welcome to the 21 Century. It sucks.

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I wish i was the guy who invented shipping and processing.

[h=1]FROM A ADVERTISEMENT ON A POPULAR AUDIO SITE.     Item Description[/h]This auction is for the yet to be announced new product from Machina Dynamica - the Diamond Light Crystal high frequency clarifier. The Diamond Light Crystal is a 1.5 inch diameter faceted leaded crystal ball that is suspended on the wall behind the speakers. The hook should be placed 7 ft. High on the wall. Damage-free small white plastic hook provided. The crystal is specially programmed. The Diamond Light Crystal produces clearer, smoother and more natural high frequencies. Starting bid $10. Our price for the Diamond Light Crystal $39. Comes with red thread and small hook for suspending the crystal. See photo. We accept Paypal, check or MO. Shipping via USPS Priority Mail, $6.

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On The Death of Physical Media and the Triumph of Computer Audio

Recently a trending topic on the many Apple web/blog sites has been the fact that few, if any, future Apple computers will come with built in optical drives. Even the iMac desktop home computer, where size and weight are not critical, will require an external optical drive to access disk media. This design decision by Apple is based on the certainly that 99% of data, including music and video will soon be purchased and transmitted over the net and stored in the cloud. CDs and DVDs will join the phonograph record as a legacy storage technology.   Only audiophiles will hold on to physical media and the increasingly expensive equipment necessary to access and process such media.   There is no doubt the Apple’s vision of the near future will come to pass. The implications for the Computer Audiophile are clear in that Computer Audio will reign supreme and source quality will remain uncertain.   As physical media becomes a niche market, the only source for high quality recordings will be the boutique merchants and specialty shops. The selection of new music in high quality formats may become increasingly limited.   The same philistines who gave us the loudness wars will fully control the quality of new recordings while the audiophile is reduced to purchasing yet another exotic format copy of the collected works of Miles Davis. This coupled with the desire of the monopolistic robber barons of the telecommunications sector to charge us for every byte cloud stored or transmitted must give us pause.   It is a brave new world.

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