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About ednaz

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  1. Very good piece. I have to say I avoid shows like that completely (since I'm not in the biz, it's no real loss) because after going to a few, I had a very similar reaction. Wait - does your system only sound good playing THAT? Wait - does EVERYONE's system only sound good playing THAT? Feels a lot like I remember when stereo first took off in the consumer world, and everyone was buying records that had stuff panned wildly left and right and back and forth, with 101 Strings and Mantovani. Look, the sound can come from more than one place! Not, listen, isn't that the sound of angels singing? And then the pontificators who seemed to be waiting for me in many rooms drove the final stake through the heart of joy. Most didn't like when I said "no, shh, just music please." And then they'd play the same chopped up mix-tape that everyone else had. Take THAT! Maybe it would have been different if I didn't keep my focus on rooms that were within my target budget at the time. Maybe the people in high end rooms didn't need carefully selected anodyne music to make their systems sound good, and knew that the sound of music would sell their stuff better than their words. Much respect to those who are able to endure all that so that I don't have to.
  2. Very curious after reading the counts above, since I'm a chronic arithmatic... Just looked at counts in my library. There's rounding up, and oddly very little rounding down... DR 1-7 13% DR 8-10 29% DR 11-13 41% DR 14-18 17% DR 19+ .5% Or - DR 13-Up 30% FWIW, I used the DR rating assigned by JRiver, since when I've checked specific albums, it has matched what I've seen in the DR Database. I was surprised to see what was in the rarified DR of 19+, and found I had a number of cuts that were higher than 20, some nearing 30. Almost all of them were percussion ensemble stuff, although I've got some studio masters (from friends' recording sessions) that are up there, because they'd not yet been finally engineered (and DR compressed) to send off to be burned to CD. One album was all 20 and over, and it was a percussion ensemble performing just with hand claps and wood blocks and sticks. I can tell you that when I listen to some of those albums, I find I'm continually fiddling the volume, because practically there is no volume setting that lets you hear the whole thing - you'll be happily listening and then suddenly someone slugs every percussion instrument they can get their hands on, or suddenly it's so soft you're not sure if the cut is over. I guess there is such a thing as too much DR for "normal listening." A few gross generalizations. Sleater-Kinney, Alabama Shakes, and a number of other very different types of music, like Pentatonix and Ben Folds 5, are all in the bottom DR sector. Almost all the jazz is between 8 and 15. Almost all the classical is 10 and up. In categories like bluegrass, world music, or alternative, it's all over the place. I'm going to submit a few of the crazy outliers to the database. They didn't have any of the percussion ensemble stuff.
  3. I wasn't aware of what DR on old masters would be like, but that explains a lot about the re-releases coming out of Blue Note. I know some musicians who recorded in Rudy Van Gelder's place and the stories of his insane pursuit for the perfect capture are funny. But, stuff he recorded in the 60s comes out cleaned up, sometimes remixed or re-mastered, and it's some of the best sounding HD out there. Says volumes about whether he figured out the perfect capture. I've got some LPs of those original 1960s releases and they don't sound as good. All of them are in the DR 10-15 range. And with spooky realism. If there's any conversation on a track, my dogs leap out of a sound sleep trying to find the intruder in the house. Which scares the crap out of people. I've even had some things recorded in the 1950s that after the re-master and re-release come out sounding deeper, more engaging, more real, than a fair amount of what's being recorded today. I wonder if there's some DR expansion going on...
  4. I think that this is actually what keeps the compression bias going. On ear buds, you really don't have a great speaker, a great seal, so anything other than top of loudness sounds like a drop out. When I'm traveling, the majority of what I see are $6 ear buds being used for listening to music. Just like how DR compression really got its legs - anticipating bad listening conditions. If I'm remembering this right, DR compression really got going when AM radio was the primary means of "streaming." Songs were checked on crappy little AM radio speakers in the mixing process to make sure you'd hear the song over the wind and car noises and sounded OK through the crackly 5 inch speaker. Listen to a Phil Spector production. Motown had a reputation of putting everything up at 10. But I've seen a lot of data showing the problem has gotten much, much worse since the 1980s. Maybe it is the rise of $6 earbuds. Radio stations often used compression to try to sound "more exciting" on peoples' radios, either by requesting records with more compression, or adding it themselves. Compression on top of compression. Some also stations used to tweak the speeds of their turntables to be a tiny bit faster, which made music sound "brighter" and more exciting to listeners and made other stations sound sluggish. I used to have a tape I'd play for people of the same song from three stations (from FM, where many stations did the same thing) and then recorded off of my carefully calibrated turntable. The most extreme station was a full pitch higher than the album. Between compression and speed tweaking, you were listening to the radio station marketing guy's idea of a song, not the musicians' intent. I can mostly tolerate the low DR stuff on speakers as background or turned up loud for an energy boost, but can't listen to that stuff at all on good headphones or CIEMs. It's like being assaulted.
  5. Excellent article. Now I understand many of the individual demons that sometimes all make it onto a single album. After the earlier dynamic range piece, I was curious and looked at my replay history, and then checked out the DR of albums and cuts I seem to listen to a lot. In jazz, bluegrass, country, alternative rock, not a single album was average DR below 12. A few got into the 16 range. I also checked out a couple albums that I bought because I really like the music, but hardly listen to - like the Alabama Shakes. DR as low as 3, averaging around 6. Hm. I love loud music. I don't love it compressed. Out of curiosity I decided to check out an album that I expected to find down around 6 or worse - MC5 Kick out the Jams. That song was a 9 according to JRiver on my system (I think my CD is a German rip off of the US album), on vinyl a 10 according to the DR database, but other songs on that album (whose sound quality is, um, not great, but it accurately reflects what an MC5 concert sounded like) they had a couple DR 11 cuts. Their studio albums came in averaging 12 or better (on the versions I have.) That, from a band that prided itself on sheer relentlessly crushing volume. Proving I think the initial statement: If there's no quiet, there's no loud.
  6. I've now "blacklisted" most pop and rock music, in terms of buying HD versions of the albums. I saw so many DR5 and lower, and didn't know how to tell before buying (grateful for the link to the database...) The last straw was an Alabama Shakes album. JRiver said DR of 5 but it sounded much, much worse than that. I experimented a bit with different files ranging from 24/96 down to MP3 at 320k and found that if the DR is really low, the album sounds no better in high res than it does in a compressed format. The better the DR, the more there is in the high res version. Not sure I'd attribute it all to the DR, I think that albums with a wider DR also show many other signs of concern about musicality and engagement - a sound engineer that cares about DR cares about a lot of things. Now, I buy pop and rock the cheapest way possible. If it sounds better than the average iTunes file, I may re-buy in HD once I know how frequently I listen - I have heard enough comparisons now to be able to tell what is likely to be worth the extra $ for high res.
  7. I lived through almost two years (oh my, maybe more) of online forum blather and gazillions of alternative tests when the big digital camera companies came up with lossless compression. What's different here is that it's not just "is it lossless" (OMG, you can't believe the insane things people did to test for that... most of which illustrated the proponent's lack of understanding of digital imaging) but MQA is claiming "and even better." So far, I'm OK saying it may be a much better compression algorithm. (For all the breakthroughs in genomics, we're still learning how to get better at assembling gene sequences...) Whether the additional information in MQA encoding adds to the sonic quality... that's an area where I have no experience in other digital domains. Other than in photography, where sharpening algorithms were initially embraced and eventually abhorred.
  8. I get that my wireless network may play a role somehow, but it's good enough to have MQA Tidal absolutely slay regular Tidal. However, in one of my comparisons, I streamed to my laptop from my music server on the same network that was streaming Tidal. Even with the Explorer 2, 24/96 files played from my laptop were slightly better sounding than software decoded MQA on my laptop (with two different DACs) and than hardware encoded MQA from my laptop. (Using both Sennheiser and Fostex headphones.) Same was true if I wireless streamed from my main server via my laptop, which SHOULD make all things network equal. I could only find a few albums on Tidal where I know the production quality would be good enough for hearing a difference (and where I know the album really well), so again, there are limits on all this back and forth. An awful lot of hip hop, reggaeton, and rock these days would probably sound as good on an AM radio as they would HD on a DAC. Honestly, there were some albums where they sounded the same no matter what approach I was using - the loudness wars pretty much wrings the life out of music. My conclusion is not that MQA isn't worth it. Absolutely is for Tidal streaming. But at some point the care taken in production when music gets re-mastered and turned into an HD file makes so much improvement that any other improvement is really a nudge and not a wow. At least for me, with the Explorer 2. Maybe different at the high end of DAC land.
  9. Music server streaming via fiber optic USB to DAC, for both local music (on in-chassis hard drives) and MQA software decoding. MQA DAC replaced the Exasound e22 in one test, Exasound won. MQA software decoding to Exasound vs local high res, local high res won. Also tried it on my MacBook Pro, streaming vs high res, a couple of different small travel size DACs. My home network streams 2xDSD and DSF to more than one system so I'm pretty sure I'm not bandwidth constrained.
  10. Very good explanation. Now I understand why I heard the differences I did with software decoding, through different DACs, and hardware decoding through the Explorer 2. My best DAC (not MQA) with software decoding in front mopped the floor with the Explorer 2 in full MQA hardware mode - because the differences between the DACs themselves were way more than the hardware decoding uplift. After fiddling with multiple DACs and different ways of playing back (and now I understand what went on behind what I heard) I'm a huge fan of MQA for streaming Tidal, but I'm unlikely to re-buy any music with MQA encoding. I did comparisons between streaming some of Tidal's MQA and HD non-MQA versions of the same music stored on my server, and local won (except on music recordings where everything was turned up to 11 in the production process - where the two were dead equal.) And while I wouldn't object to buying a DAC with MQA decoding capability, that would only be if the DAC is the best I can get at the price point for non-MQA playback... meaning, the MQA decoding pretty much needs to be a free feature. For the Explorer 2, in fact, that's kind of how it seems to me. It's excellent at its price point, with MQA thrown in.
  11. That's an amazingly well done review, with a complete lesson in how and why you took the approaches you took. I agree that you probably don't need to include all of it all the time, but please do pull out the lessons sections and have them available via a footnote link for each review... it'll save you a lot of people asking "but you probably didn't" questions. Really, I found myself re-reading the sections on time alignment, listening rooms, etc a couple times. I'm not in the market for new speakers, but am trying to improve the basic qualities of my listening rooms, and now I understand much better why a couple things worked and a couple things didn't.
  12. Just an update. After struggling to get the Mini to use my music server as its library, the "use network library" option - it'd scan, be fine for awhile (ranging from an hour to a couple days) and then BANG couldn't find the library. So the LightningDS app was pretty much worthless. I did try an external USB drive, hoping against hope that I could then have my music server sync files with it (hey, it's linux, right?) and while I can see the Mini on the network, it won't let me write to it. Since my music library is about 2.6tb... an internal drive, or even an external drive, if I can't update it easily, won't help. Then I stumbled across this. I'd been using the Mini as a UPNP endpoint with Remote... then noticed that there was DLNA server setup. I picked that, pointed it to my JRiver library on the music server. It scanned the music and set up its own local library. Now when I use Lightning DS, the Mini pulls music down, but has the quick response that comes from having the control on the Mini, less lag than with Remote. For some reason using DLNA works wonderfully, giving me access to the remote library with solid reliability, where using "remote library" in the Mini's menu didn't work.
  13. Smokey will always remember you. Good on you for stepping in to help a creature who couldn't do for himself. I've done rescue relays (dogs rescued from a state with an excess, transported through a series of drivers in a relay to a state where they're needed) and every one of them has been excellent, and seeing the faces of the adopting families (sometimes I'm the last relay) is a huge reward. You've got a hell of an incredible odyssey story... no cyclops or sirens (well, OK, sirens, but a different kind) but an odyssey nevertheless. Think how dull the week would have been otherwise.
  14. I have issues streaming Tidal to any device if I'm on the 2.4ghz network in my house, none at all if on the 5ghz network. Select the 5ghz network, if you've got a choice. If you don't, you'll probably need to get a wireless router that does have that. That lower frequency network gets all kinds of interference - microwave ovens are very close to that frequency, as are many mobile phones, baby monitors, etc. I can even stream 24/192 and DSD to the Mini on the 5ghz network. We've locked devices that can't do 5ghz (my old Logitech Touch, for example) to the lower frequency network, along with guests... all music and media use the higher frequency network.
  15. At least with the player app, the only indication is that it is in the Masters section, as they say that everything there is MQA. Not sure about MQA enabled DACs though.